The most efficient and effective tools have always managed to stand out from the noise. In this vein, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), though often relegated to behind-the-scenes work, has been generating attention. A recent CFO.com article provides an interesting perspective on how this technology is spreading throughout the office of finance.
Based on a Gartner survey of 64 corporate controllers at companies with greater than $1 billion in revenue, 50% of controllers and their teams are in the process of implementing RPA.1 Many companies are wary of change to the status quo or shilling out for job-altering technology, but they will need to overcome those hesitations quickly.
As RPA gains prominence within corporate finance, companies must have specific plans for implementing it at the ground level. According to Johanna Robinson, a finance practice leader at Gartner, “As AI becomes more available, mainstream, and useful,” she says, “enterprises that haven’t built the requisite automation skills and knowledge will be that much further behind the curve.”
Historically, organizations have viewed RPA as another technological threat to human involvement in corporate finance. However, that has proved to simply not be the case, according to Weston Jones, Ernst & Young’s global leader for intelligent automation.
“The [RPA] tools do a really good job with work packets, but most of the end-to-end processes are too complex,” says Jones, “the tools don’t fully automate all the handoffs between procurement, finance and other silos, and you still have to have people involved when there are exceptions.” The financial close is full of repetitive and easily automated tasks, once these tasks are performed by RPA, humans can concentrate on higher-value projects.
As the office of finance learns to treat RPA and other AI-focused technologies as enhancement of their capabilities rather than replacement, they will be able to benefit from its ability to transform their financial close process.
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