23 Aug 2019 2:00 PM

When you think of robots, most people probably think of Star Wars or Doctor Who. Robots have developed to the point where robotic process automation (RPA) is slowly being implemented into the world of corporate finance.

Generally, spreadsheet programmes such as Microsoft Excel and general ledger and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have already been widely implemented across most finance functions. Nevertheless, most teams still spend a significant amount of time manually processing data.

The development of RPA will soon result in huge digital transformations within corporate finance. They will be able to mimic human computer interactions, alongside repetitive rules-based tasks. This includes collating and comparing data from multiple systems, reading and writing into databases, entering data into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and finally extracting and reformatting this data into reports, dashboards and far more. By using artificial intelligence, not only can we automate most of the manual processing, but we can train the software to automatically improve and learn overtime based on past data and experiences. This leaves more time for teams to focus on higher level tasks, such as analysis and decision making.

Company executives can use AI to identify opportunities to make better finance decisions and improve company policies and procedures. Examples of AI that are already popular include digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa. Just as software robots get smarter over time, AI technologies could also end up helping humans make more informed decisions. For example, these digital assistants could be used to access data analytics systems and instantly answer questions to help drive strategy and decision making in corporate board meetings and beyond.

Thanks to improvements in machine learning algorithms and increasing computing power, AI is becoming a reality for corporate finance teams.

Written by: Izzy Mehta