Digital disruption is on the mind of every finance professional. Source: Twitter / ACCA Malaysia

Digital disruption is on the mind of every finance professional. Source: Twitter / ACCA Malaysia

The road to finance 4.0 starts with robotic process automation

FINANCE professionals aren’t immune to digital disruption. Whether they manage money in an organization or help audit it as a consultancy, technology presents many exciting opportunities to finance executives.

Technology can help really streamline processes, bring in transparency, improve auditing functions, and remove human errors almost entirely.

It can also make it cheaper for organizations to run their finance divisions by automating tasks that were more manual. Does this mean we’ll need fewer finance professionals in the future? Not at all.

The reality is tomorrow’s finance professionals will either be more experienced in the art of optimizing financial automation or proficient in programming languages to audit the accuracy of algorithms ruling the finance division.

Since technology is seen as the force that is driving the 4th industrial revolution, the changes it drives in finance are seen as part of the Finance 4.0 umbrella.

And although Finance 4.0 is great for professionals and businesses, organizations need to prepare themselves before they can make the leap.

In order to evolve to that future state where the finance division is run by technology and overseen by professionals who can help optimize and govern algorithmic processes, they need to prepare themselves and their infrastructure to climb the digital maturity curve.

Getting started with Finance 4.0

The first step to going digital for finance executives is to start automating processes with robotic process automation (RPA).

Given how simple RPA is to train and deploy, finance teams find that their workload lightens easily when they start automating.

RPA-based software robots can check emails for invoices, scan and pick up relevant data from it to add it to the company’s accounting system, and track and follow up on payments.

It can flag items that aren’t aligned with standard operating procedures so the team can look at it. Over time, the action taken by the team is analyzed by the RPA solution to find trends and learn from them.

The fact that RPA is so simple to implement not only helps finance professionals get to grips with technology quickly but it also gives them a good first look at what the future could be for them if they embrace technology entirely.

The intelligent thing about using RPA — and why it’s so important to get started with it in the first place — is that when organizations first start working with the solution, they audit all of their processes.

As a result, inefficiencies get highlighted, roundabout processes get flagged, and there’s a good chance to make the overall system more efficient and robust before even delivering any technology-driven RoI from the project.

The future, after all, is digital — and financial services professionals must pay heed to RPA when exploring future technologies.

It’s something professional organizations such as ACCA, CIMA, the AICPA, and so many others talk about and emphasize when they have events and sessions.

Businesses leaders looking to provide support to the organization’s overall digital transformation plan must look at RPA as a first step to the journey, at least in the financial space.