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5 Ways to Use Tech to Improve Strategy in 2022

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As accounting processes become more automated and COVID-19 continues to impact the global economy, finance leaders must prioritize using AI and other technologies in 2022 to give their organizations a competitive edge. Todd Robinson of Boomer Consulting breaks down the top-five actions you can take in the new year to increase your firm's efficiency

Nov 17th 2021
Contributing Writer Freelancer
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We live in a world of self-driving cars, where access to mobile banking is ubiquitous and space tourism is on the horizon. Yet, accounting processes are shockingly old-fashioned. According to recent research by Gartner, 50 percent of B2B invoices will be processed and paid without manual intervention by 2025. As a result, large enterprises spend millions to tens of millions of dollars per year on financial transaction processing and classification. 

In addition to costly transaction processing, finance leaders face unique challenges as we enter 2022 and the pandemic continues to affect the global economy. From supply chain disruptions to labor shortages, finance leaders have the opportunity to tackle critical issues in the coming year. With that in mind, we have narrowed down the top-five priorities you, as a finance leader, can take action on to give your organization a competitive advantage in this highly volatile operating environment. 

1. Reinvent outdated processes

When determining which part of your business to focus digitization efforts on, start by identifying bottlenecks or areas where there is a lack of control due to manual processes. A question you should always ask is: how do we automate routine tasks and improve the process? This is where process agility comes into play. 

As artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies improve, they can elevate outdated automation workflows that require tedious human tasks. Artificial intelligence can perform cost-side accounting autonomously by learning from your data and your accounting team, gradually taking the wheel and replacing legacy OCR and rules-based methods. This type of software is designed to work across one or multiple ERP systems and can help your finance department strive for process agility.

2. Align technology to deliver complete solutions 

Implementing new technology that works for your business as you scale requires critical research and planning. Conducting a “whole product” analysis of your channel and business ecosystem is a great place to start the research phase of implementation. Identify all products and technologies essential to the job and predict the ROI of the technology. Try to include products and technologies outside of your normal scope such as networking, security, ERP, storage or cloud-based services. 

Now that retaining staff can be a challenge for finance leaders — especially in typically high-turnover roles — remember, one of the main benefits of automation technology is that it can work 24/7 with accuracy and consistency, with the support of program or project managers. When paired properly with humans, technology can leave your staff time to think strategically about what’s next for their department or the organization as a whole. 

3. Leverage data 

Inaccurate financial data can waste up to 114 days, according to a global survey of C-suite executives and financial professionals. Human error is the leading cause of accounting inaccuracies. While automation is great for streamlining processes, data intelligence is the foundation for making informed tactical decisions to identify growth opportunities and detect errors in real time. As a finance leader, you can evaluate the discrepancies in your reporting and leverage that information to improve accuracy or enhance future decisions. 

4. Implement intelligence into your business 

Business intelligence can help companies make better decisions by showing present and historical data within their business context. Without technology and the people behind the data, having access to real-time data is almost impossible. 

By using technology to leverage existing data sources, you will reduce the manual work of extracting, manipulating and reconciling actual data from source systems. This allows you to make smarter and faster decisions with intel from your data sources. If you are able to detect errors more quickly or even before they happen, your team has no excuse to not correct those errors. Additionally, there is more time to fix errors, allowing timely transparency to investors, leadership and other necessary parties. 

5. Determine your AI strategy 

Despite the sharp increase in enterprise AI adoption, confusion remains over a true AI and an AI-enabled company. However, only a few companies relying heavily on AI have provided groundbreaking solutions to real problems. 

True artificial intelligence presents a mix of augmentation and complete autonomy. The longer you use high-quality AI systems, the more autonomy you get as mutual learning improves performance. This autonomy element of such a platform is all about driving and developing a technology that is able to reason and make decisions on its own. 

Before planning your AI strategy, answer these questions: 

  • What do I want AI to solve? 
  • Can it improve current processes without destroying processes that are working? 
  • Can AI free up my employees’ time so they can focus on strategic initiatives? 
  • Will it increase speed and efficiency? 

Once focused on the past and transaction management, the most valued finance leaders are now helping guide businesses into the future by focusing on growth. To play a bigger role in strategy, take a deeper dive into the top priorities and take action as you enter 2022.

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