Two key systems have long served as the backbone of the finance function: ERP and EPM. Together, these solutions allow teams to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, forecasting, workforce planning, and financial report creation.
These finance systems are designed to ingest, organize, and present all of an organization’s business data, within a common database. But organizations are looking for more than data reporting from their finance teams. Organizations want the finance function, and the systems that they use, to be predictive, insightful, and a source of competitive differentiation. This requires a major shift in both mindset and capabilities for most finance teams. At the same time, the variety and velocity of data within organizations are growing and accelerating, with legacy finance solutions unable to keep pace. Organizations are looking to add emerging technologies to their financial systems to help overcome these parallel challenges.
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The world is becoming an increasingly connected place. According to Statista, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to reach 31 billion this year, and grow to 75 billion worldwide by 2025. From beacons to sensors, these “smart” devices collect, send, and act on data by talking to one another in ways that allow organizations to gather real-time insights.
Although IoT resides in the world of operations, its impact is drawing the attention of CFOs, many of whom are interested in converting the vast volumes of data generated by IoT devices into real business value. This is evident in the nearly half (43%) of respondents who are currently feeding connected device data into financial systems, with the most popular use case being the use of real-time production monitoring data. Respondents are also looking to automated inventory monitoring and tracking data (53%), and asset monitoring data (52%) to bolster finance systems.
The benefit for finance organizations is clear: With more accurate and real-time IoT data, finance teams can remove guesswork from forecasts, lower inventory carrying costs, and more precisely budget capital investments guided by asset management data.
The chatbot revolution is well underway. Tech titans have unleashed a variety of tools and platforms so that organizations can adopt intelligent enterprise chatbots with a distinctly human touch. Corporations are taking advantage and deploying these digital assistants to automate manual activities, increase business efficiencies, and better engage employees and customers.
As chatbot-to-human interactions become more commonplace, and more refined, employees expect enterprise apps to offer the same easy-to-use experience and advanced interactions.
Finance departments are no exception. Today’s CFOs want to spend their limited time and resources on strategic initiatives rather than navigating their financial systems. That’s especially true as technologies such as Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon’s Alexa become the preferred medium for receiving weather updates, ordering take-out, and even booking flights. As these chatbot-to-human interactions become more commonplace, and more refined, employees expect enterprise apps to offer the same easy-to-use experience and advanced interactions. Conversational technologies (such as chatbots, virtual assistants, and digital assistants) offer a solution, promising to reshape the way employees access critical systems and to deliver numerous benefits to organizations.
More than two-thirds (67%) of organizations using digital assistants in finance systems report achieving increased employee productivity.
The proof is in the numbers: More than two-thirds (67%) of organizations using digital assistants in finance systems report achieving increased employee productivity. Consider submitting employee expenses—a time-consuming and tedious process that, when delayed, can prevent finance from closing its books. With a digital assistant, an employee can easily open a messaging app and have a conversation with the expense assistant that quickly guides the user through the expense workflow. Once completed, the digital assistant will then automatically deliver this confidential information securely to the appropriate finance systems. Similar efficiencies are achievable in other areas such as purchasing, where a bot can instruct employees to buy from approved suppliers. On average, respondents say workflows enhanced by digital assistants deliver a 36% increase in employee productivity.
Another advantage of digital assistant-powered finance systems is faster analysis and insights, according to 65% of respondents. When asked to quantify a digital assistant’s impact on the speed of analysis, respondents, on average, reported a 38% increase. A perfect example is a CFO with a multinational retail chain. To find answers to critical business questions relating to a recent marketing campaign, the CFO would typically have to send emails back and forth among various marketing executives. Using a digital assistant, the CFO can simply ask, “What’s the current margin on our new BOGO offer for trendsetters?” and receive a real-time, accurate response.
Similarly, 65% of respondents say that conversational technologies are helping to streamline forecasting and reporting processes. That’s because many digital assistants feature comprehensive dashboards that capture details and provide status updates without having to consolidate spreadsheets and pore over vast volumes of data. For instance, an expense reporting assistant can automatically create, classify, and match expense items for easy processing. At the same time, a powerful voice interface allows a CFO to interact with the digital assistant based on predetermined preferences.
Savvy CFOs are leveraging emerging technologies to reinvent business processes, enhance employee experiences, and drive customer engagement. But putting new technologies to work is not always easy. Years ago, ERP implementations carried seven-figure price tags and required painful multiyear deployments, not to mention scores of high-priced consultants to keep systems up and running.
That was then. Today, cloud-based, SaaS technology provides an ideal architecture for the adoption of emerging technology without the IT headaches. In fact, two clear, interrelated trends emerge from our research related to the cloud consumption model: First, 92% of respondents see SaaS finance applications as an enabler of emerging technology adoption.