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CFOs Look to Ramp Up Automation Investments Amid Pandemic

Finance chiefs are considering hastening investments in automation initiatives to better manage their companies’ finances and operations despite facing revenue declines stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

While many finance executives are slashing costs to weather the downturn, some view investments in technology as essential to better equip newly remote finance teams or strengthen other parts of the business.

For many, the crisis is accelerating the vision that they’ve already had for a long time. While it could have taken years or even decades to make that shift, I think you’re going to see it much faster now.

AOSMITH’s expects recent digital investments into AP automation which helps companies track and manage invoices and engagement with vendors — to pay off within the finance team and across the company as many employees work from home.

A large auto dealer has used automation to make its shared services centralised processes ranging from accounting to human resources more efficient.

For many companies, a finance department’s core transactional processes—such as closing the books, accounts payable, customer billing and processing supplier invoices—aren’t fully automated. Companies with shared-services employees who aren’t able to work from home are more likely to make a big push during the pandemic to automate processes, executives say.

If you can’t send a bill to a customer or you can’t send a check to an employee, all of those operations basically halt, you’ll struggle to close the books if there’s a lot of manual things that are going on.

Fallout from the pandemic could change the pace of automation adoption, the execution of which has been slow for many companies. The proportion of companies ramping up globally on automation technologies, such as conversational artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, optical character recognition and low code automation, will at least double over the next two years, according a Bain survey of nearly 800 executives, one-third of which work in finance.

Many companies will have no choice but to employ automation to maintain their businesses in a bid to cut down on labour costs and other expenses.