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Treasury Technology

Advancing the RPA Revolution

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March 06, 2019

NeuGroup members are increasingly looking to get the robots cracking on repetitive tasks

E-commerceA member demonstration of a business risk and insurance chatbot that answers employees’ routine requests for certificates of insurance turned out to be a popular session at a recent peer group meeting. This meeting of NeuGroup’s Assistant Treasurers’ Group of Thirty (AT30) reveals how robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) is pricking up the ears of leanly staffed treasuries.

Why? There are a host of reasons. Cost savings is one. With the automation of work processes, administrative costs can be reduced by up to 50% in some cases. Also, innovations like RPA are faster to build and deploy than traditional solutions. They also help reduce time spent on labor-intensive, repetitive tasks. Accuracy and consistency are another reason, as solutions like RPA can eliminate output variations and calculation errors. Finally, treasury can shift its focus to higher value work.

At the meeting, many AT30 members disclosed that they currently are working on, or exploring, projects and tools using AI. And many are not embarking on these projects alone. The member presenting its efforts so far is working with a company called Pypestream that offers “customer engagement solutions” in the form of bots and robots. Meantime, most NeuGroup members using third parties to assist their automation efforts are turning to companies like Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere, the latter calling itself the global leader in automatic process automation.

In the AT30’s pre-meeting survey, members also identified data visualization tools from Tableau and Microsoft’s Power BI as useful. The applications for the new technology listed by survey respondents included “routing processes that don’t have scale to send to a shared service center,” manual journal entries and back-office finance shared services.

Since RPA can easily emulate a user by performing repetitive, rules-based tasks across multiple systems, it’s becoming abundantly clear that any repetitive task that is going to be around for a while, including bridging data across ERPs, is ripe for robotics. That said, 44% of respondents said they didn’t know if their company has a tangible digital strategy. And many members have questions about the technology.

At the meeting, the issue of security and who has access to bots came up, with one member saying, “It’s one thing if it’s an internal system; it’s a whole other thing if it’s an external system.” Still, the revolution rolls on.

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