March 12, 2019

Are we ready for the second phase of digitalization?

by Digitalization, Source-to-Pay

"There is no enterprise in the world that would survive on its own the challenge posed by the speed of the new technologies", says Pekka Sivonen, Director of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

Are we ready for the second phase of digitalization?

"We are leaving behind the times when value is created through linear business models. In the new era, everything is truly connected to everything. The companies and their products and services will become connected into ever larger entities, and survival in this platform economy will require functional ecosystems." This quote, now more true than ever, is actually already nearly two years old. It comes from when Sivonen spoke at our Finance Forum in 2017.

Pekka Sivonen
Pekka Sivonen from Tekes challenged the participants in the Finance Forum 2017 to consider how the new technologies can make their companies not only 10 percent but 10 times more efficient

He emphasized that the first phase of digitalization in which a digital layer is simply added to the products and services is already over. That’s right even though we all might feel somewhat saturated when it comes to hearing about digitalization, what we have experienced so far is only the beginning.

Technologies will change the world (again)

There are several different technologies that are just standing in the starting blocks to changing the way we work and frankly live. Blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data are just a few of these technologies. On top of that we have 5G data networks that might just change how we use the internet (and say goodbye to home broadband).

By 2020 the number of devices connected to the internet is expected to increase five-fold from today’s 10 billion devices. In other words, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet.

This will also mean an explosion in the data volumes, of course: taking the mobile data traffic alone, the network traffic will have grown 500-fold by the year 2025. It’s impossible to imagine that this data will be processed by anything else than artificial intelligence.

Expect a digital leap in procurement and a transformation of work

Our CEO, Patrik Sallner, predicts that one of the companies’ biggest digital leaps in the next few years will take place in procurement-related processes.

In Finland, electronic invoices are already quite commonly used in the transactions between businesses, and the direct purchases are also extensively digitalized within the companies. On the other hand, indirect and service purchases still require a lot of manual work both in the purchasing department and in the purchase ledger, as well as in the invoice processing. The goal is the end-to-end digitalization and automation of the finance and procurement processes.

During the panel discussion at the Finance Forum, we pondered a future vision for the automation in financial management. Participating in the discussion was Helena Lappalainen, Development Director at Palkeet, the Finnish Government Shared Service Centre for Finance and HR, who stressed that increased automation is not only a change in software or the system but a transformation in the work process. During this year, Palkeet has already deployed 10 software robots for financial and payroll management tasks.

"Our goal is to automate everything that can be automated. Digital employees, software robots, are only one possible tool. Our employees realized that by adopting this change many of the mundane manual work routines (which they don’t enjoy anyway) will disappear. This has had a key role in implementing the changes."

"The change that is underway is first and foremost a transformation of culture and work. It impacts hugely the way things are done and requires leadership, new ways of thinking, as well as new skills," said Lappalainen.


Rowan Lemley on catalog content management

Rowan Lemley

Rowan has more than 10 years of experience in the purchase-to-pay arena. During this time, he has managed the go-to-market for a diverse set of portfolios including Accounts Payable Automation, B2B Networks, Financing Services, eProcurement and Product Information Management.

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