Rethinking How Finance Uses Digital Tools (Bain & Company)

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Robotics Process Automation and Machine Learning, Under-Funded or just Under-Used?

The math is in. According to a Bain and Company survey, the adoption of robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning is expected to double over the next two years. Ironically however, the survey also discovered how little some highly-developed tools are being utilized. So, companies are eager to invest in up-and-coming technology solutions, yet fail repeatedly at effectively implementing the tools that are already available to them. This may come as a surprise to some, given the common misconceptions that automation-driven processes will soon be the death of the modern finance professional.

Graph showing that companies will be doubling their use of RPA and machine learning in coming years

Is it all about cost saving?

The simple answer is, no. Realistically though, cutting costs tends to top the list when it comes to digital adoption. Some companies have begun to realize that improved financial processing speeds and greater reporting accuracy are the greatest benefits, but many still believe it’s all about the bottom line.

Some of the business functions affected by RPA and machine learning include:

  • Payroll
  • Credit Card Reconciliations
  • Taxes
  • Monthly Financial Close Statements
  • Accounts Payable/Receivable
  • Quality Control Processes

Seeing more than the shiny new toy

Clearly RPA and machine learning have many uses. Yet, so many companies are investing, but how much of this motivation is the hope for a profitable “Easy” button and how much is the result of careful planning? Let’s take a snapshot.

  • Two-thirds of respondent companies intend to invest heavily in RPA, yet roughly half of their Accounts Payable and Receivable departments are not utilizing current technology solutions such as optical character recognition (OCR) or electronic invoicing.
  • 77% of respondents plan to invest in tax solutions, yet 69% aren’t even using digital tax classification tools.
  • Only 5% of billing departments process customer invoices with zero manual intervention…zero.

Is the answer more tools? Or better utilization?

Read the full article “How Finance Uses Digital Tools” here.

What does a current automation solution look like? Take a look.