Watching the finance automation “Masters”

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„Masters’” expectations of what they can achieve with automation are higher than those of their less advanced peers, or “Novices.”

An elite group of automation “Masters” is leading the way in finance automation. Guided by a transformation strategy, Masters often enjoy higher revenue growth from automation than “Novices” that have only started to implement a strategy.

In the first post in this series, I looked at some of the main findings of Capgemini’s recent “Reimagining Finance for the Digital Age” survey. In particular, I described the excitement surrounding digital transformation in the finance function.

In this survey, we identified CFOs whose implementations of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are setting the pace not just for their peers in other enterprises, but also within their own organizations. What they’re doing and how they’re doing it is both interesting and important. In this post, I’m going to look at what we might learn from these “Masters,” as we’ve called them.

The benefits of cohesion

Masters expect to be delivering multiple types of value to other parts of their businesses in a very short space of time. For example, 60% of them expect that within three years, automation will be helping them to improve their customers’ experience, and 55% say it will be helping to unlock new insights that drive value for the business.

How do they expect to realize these ambitions? A joined-up approach to automation is more likely to be effective. Masters’ greater maturity in, and ambition for, automation may partly result from what appears to be closer integration with enterprise-wide automation efforts. A whopping 85% of Masters say the business as a whole is also pursuing an automation strategy, while 51% report that automation is led at the enterprise level by a dedicated team.

All aboard

You can’t win a battle unless everyone is behind you. Our survey shows senior finance leaders need to communicate their automation strategy and its aims clearly. They should also outline the opportunities their employees will have to engage in higher-value work once relieved from repetitive tasks.

Understanding at the top of the organization is key to automation progress: among Masters, awareness among senior business leaders of the opportunities and challenges of automation is more widespread than it is in other enterprises.

Making sense – using senses

If you’re going to adopt an enterprise-wide approach to automation, it makes sense to establish a set of guiding principles. Organizations articulate these in different ways, but here at Capgemini, we like to describe them in terms of the nature of the functions being implemented. We call them the “Five Senses of Intelligent Automation”:

  • WATCH/Monitor – digital transformation is going to generate an increasing amount of data from and about everything. Access to it needs to be watched, controlled and confirmed.
  • TALK/LISTEN/Interact – the human element doesn’t go away. In fact, it becomes more important than ever. Organizations on a transformative path should, for example, have a more a more positive interaction with their budget holders and a 24/7 relationship with their customers.
  • ACT/Service – alerts and triggers should be issued, and robotic process automation (RPA) should be leveraged to match or progress transactions across ERP systems.
  • THINK/Analyze – AI algorithms should be applied to undertake pattern analysis so as to identify trends and unexpected occurrences, and to highlight inefficiencies.
  • REMEMBER/Knowledge – automated libraries should be deployed to easily gather, store, and use knowledge to determine what happened last time, and to inform the best next actions to take.

The main benefit of establishing principles like these is that they create a framework without being overly prescriptive. The pace of change is such that processes and technologies currently delivering results are likely to be superseded – but within a comprehensive and consistent strategy, the outcome is more important than the means used to achieve it. The tools may change, but the toolbox stays the same.

However, this doesn’t fully explain the intelligent bit. That comes when we connect the senses to create an intelligent automation platform. While the application of each individual sense improves a process, it’s the interaction between the senses that delivers the AI, and enables us to develop an intelligent automation strategy for our clients.

And it works…

I said just now that Masters’ expectations of what they can achieve with automation are higher than those of their less advanced peers, or “Novices,” as we called them. This confidence springs from the bottom line. Our analysis showed Masters often enjoy higher revenue growth than Novices: 26% of the former group have experienced revenue growth of 10% or higher over the past three years, compared with only 6% of the latter group.

In the next post in this series, Adam Bujak, Head of Technology Transformation at Capgemini’s Business Services, will be looking at what our survey tells us about the practical steps organizations are taking to get started and build capability in the intelligent automation of financial processes.

Read the full “Reimagining Finance for the Digital Agereport.

 To learn more about how Capgemini’s intelligent automation can deliver enhanced value to your finance function, contact: carole.murphy@capgemini.com

 Learn more about how Capgemini’s Finance Powered by Intelligent Automation offering helps you navigate the myriad of products, tools, and services, enabling your business to benefit from an intelligent solution that combines automation, digital platforms, know-how and insight.

 Carole  Murphy leads Capgemini’s Business Transformation Services, a global team of transformation professionals and is responsible for developing and delivering transformational solutions for our clients. Drawing on over 20 years of experience across operations, consulting, and transformation, Carole helps large global organizations achieve their business objectives and operational excellence through BPO-led transformation and alignment of Capgemini’s Business Services and Group assets to deliver efficiency, value, and improved control in their operations.

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