Business

Are finance solutions becoming smarter?

MORE than any other profession, the role of those in finance, has been defined by what technology will allow them to determine how they can add value and influence across an organisation or company.

What finance teams are able to do, how they are viewed within their environment, and where their strengths and weaknesses lie, are very much now dependent on the underlying technology capabilities.

Instead of relying on computers for simple automation of role administrative activities, new more sophisticated software is being used - with the embedded ability to 'think' – to go beyond the previously manual, time-consuming accounting and reporting processes.

There is a new reality for the world of finance that allows professionals to determine how they work as opposed to being boxed in to a predefined mundane, repetitive role in the past.

These transformative and intelligent technologies like in-memory, machine learning, predictive analytics, and others are changing the way we work and the value finance is bringing to an organisation. The impact is substantial, as the majority of finance leaders believe automation is improving efficiency within their organisation, and throughout the company, freeing up their time and abilities for more strategic tasks.

Automated financial tasks should no longer requires intensive human monitoring, defeating the purpose set out in the first place. Today's intelligent finance applications can perform daily routines more efficiently than ever.

Today's new technologies offers advanced automation, and machine learning can handle critical, resource-intensive tasks, more quickly and accurately than any human can.

As a result, there are great time saving opportunities associated with these features. It's estimated that one-third of the repetitive, rules-driven work, performed by accounting and tax departments, can be eliminated through machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation.

Top providers like SAP are applying advanced automation and machine learning, to their core financial functionality that more and more finance teams now depends on. In one example, cash application software can use machine learning techniques to analyse historical data. The software then uses this analysis to continuously seek out efficiencies, improve processes, and clear payments automatically.

The more it is used, the smarter it gets – identifying mistakes, inputting errors, and other anomalies – before presenting just the exceptions, for human action by the personnel in the finance department.

Intelligent finance tools can scan enormous amounts of finance data and in turn, highlight business trends and behavioural patterns. They can bring together actuals, forecasts, and simulations, to uncover market trends before they occur, thus increasing the accuracy of predictive actions.

According to some statistics, the average loss of income due to occupational fraud (more common in larger companies and organisations) is around 5 per cent of income. Finance applications with intelligence built-in, can leverage machine learning and prediction, to automatically detect fraudulent system entries. This results in information that can be used, to reduce risks in financial transactions.

As machine learning matures, the new voice activated 'in-context' tools, will compliment and assist financial, accounting, analytical, and risk-based tasks. Simply ask for the name of a supplier and you'll immediately start collecting information, such as open purchase orders or open disputes, payments, accounts postings, and more.

Intelligent technology has created a new reality for finance departments, redefining its value across an organisation. By embedding intelligence in finance applications and processes company-wide, finance managers and directors can take advantage of improved levels of insight, prediction, and efficiency to drive growth and inform strategic initiatives throughout the business.

:: Trevor Bingham (editorial@itfuel.com) is business relationship manager at ItFuel in Craigavon. Follow them on Twitter @itfuel

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