It's no surprise that, in these days of fast-paced technological advancement, that automation is gaining greater recognition in financial services. CFOs of modern businesses now seek out automation and new technologies to stay ahead in their industries. In this modern competitive landscape, agility and accuracy are mandatory, and as a result, traditional static planning tools such as spreadsheets, are no longer the best option in a fast-changing business environment. Instead, CFOs are particularly focused on technologies that automate traditionally manual tasks, such as business or departmental spend modelling, performance stats collection and aggregation, data entry and reconciliation.
As many executives would agree, at present, there are huge volumes of structured and unstructured data which has largely gone unleveraged for the benefit of the corporate forecasts. Consequently altogether too much Management Strategy is not supplemented with this substantiating data and is instead designed by gut feel on the back of a napkin.
As well as doing away with traditional planning methods such as spreadsheets laden with manual data manipulation and email-based collaboration, robotic automation brings numerous advantages. By streamlining exhaustive manual processes, the burden on the financial team is lifted, and invaluable time for higher-level tasks such as strategic planning and decision-making is freed up.
Benefits of robotic automation include:
- Rapid creation of comprehensive reporting breakdowns for stakeholders and executives
- Increased productivity of the finance team and more time for decision-support and analysis
- More strategic planning opportunities
- Better understanding of the data lineage from source system through to reporting output
- Greater accuracy of planning, reporting, and budgeting
Automation has been extensively implemented within big corporations, including Google, PwC, Microsoft and Deloitte. It streamlines the setting of budgets, forecasting, and planning - with greatly increased agility. With the time saved from these newly automated processes, companies are able to focus on strategic actions such as:
- Analysing competitive landscapes
- Minimising shortfalls, as a result of greater efficiency
- Making the most of short term economic or industry opportunities
- Consolidating their roles as global giants
Eliminating inefficiency - not jobs
One of the biggest fears of introducing robotic automation into a workplace is the threat of redundancies. However, workplace studies have shown that is not necessarily the case. Robert Half International, a global Human Resources consultancy firm, conducted a study which concludes that more finance jobs, as a result of automation, will actually be gained than lost. Efficient integration of automation increases opportunities for the upskilling of existing staff. It is far more cost-efficient for businesses to retrain staff than to rehire. Automation thereby produces a workforce with increased skillsets, rather than a workforce reduced in size.
With the volumes of business data doubling every two years, the need for automation has become ever more pressing - and it will soon become a matter of business survival. Furthermore, Machine Learning and AI technology are also rapidly developing, and if used in conjunction with automation will process high volumes of data and deal with complex scenarios. This will, in turn, save time to carry out detailed analysis, reduce workplace fatigue and lead to an environment more conducive to creative business thinking.
New finance staff will no longer be hired on the basis of their Excel skills, but on their versatility and readiness to adapt to technological change. The new business landscape will be a knowledge-based economy, in which strategic thinking and planning will be paramount.
Automation with MODLR
MODLR's Discovery Dashboards provide non-technical users access to insights typically locked away within data warehouses in organisations through their Natural Language Processing (NLP) functionality. This allows businesses to break down the barriers of reporting, and enabling them to make accurate decisions - faster. This NLP functionality provides the end-user with the ability to use spoken or written English to produce figures, charts, trends and reports to present to stakeholders and executives, thus eliminating the need for staff to master new software - or to have to wait for the generation of reports from scratch. See our technology in action here, and schedule a MODLR demo here.