Here, have a look at a list of features of a top-notch mobile device:
Camera: Well, no.
Radio: Of course not.
I don’t even have to ask if these specifications of a mobile phone that was the best in the market in 2005 would fulfill your expectations now. Swiping through this blog post on the touch screen of a smart phone, it’s easy to understand why no one is interested in having a cell phone that is over 10 years old.
Surely, in the B2B environment, the old way of doing things just does not make do either – right? We at OpusCapita put this presumption to the test and surveyed around a hundred companies about the software and systems their finance function is operating with. We found out that almost 40% of them had implemented their current systems for more than 8 years ago, many of them even up to 15 to 20 years ago.
Naturally, many of these companies have upgraded the technical versions of their systems, but as studies from EY, Deloitte and the Hackett Group, for instance, show, remarkably few companies actually challenge their established way of operating and managing their financial processes. The focus is still on the fragmented functions of the invoicing process, just like it was a decade or so ago, instead of developing and optimizing end-to-end processes and workflows for purchase-to-pay (P2P) and order-to-cash (O2C), for example.
Just last week I discussed with a colleague the change that has happened in the recent years, as cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) delivery model has become at least a viable option for the traditional on-premises installation of software. My colleague contrasted cleverly that SaaS service is like having a new car delivered to your use every 3 to 6 months instead of having the same car year after year.
But choosing SaaS is not only about keeping up with the developing technology or benefitting from an economy of scale. You need to think ahead and ask yourself where you want to be in the future. My colleague continued to challenge me with the comparison: “With SaaS, in a couple of years you will get a car that drives itself while you can have a warm, tasty cup of coffee while reading a newspaper or writing a business paper.”
Wow! This is really something to think about. Do I want to keep on driving a 10-year-old car or let the future car drive me to my destinations while I use my time more wisely?
Following this train of thought back into the B2B environment and financial operations, the straightforward value of cloud-based solutions and outsourcing is already proven by more and more companies who are taking advantage of these services, leaving responsibility of the future development to the service provider. But the long-term gain coming into view now is in the use of software robots and artificial intelligence.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is the self-driving car of finance. It makes it possible for the finance and accounting operative processes to run automatically, by itself, while the financial managers can use their time and turn their focus on more meaningful, challenging and pivotal expert tasks.
Personally, I would love to have a robot to help me with my day-to-day responsibilities and tasks. I can easily come up with a list of mundane and, frankly, boring routine activities I would like to automate to free time for more worthwhile issues. How about you?