Automation, the next level of efficiency: Costs halve for certain processes such as billing

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Many companies are already in the second or third generation of cost optimization and productivity growth. Leverages such as process outsourcing, portfolio rationalization or ERP implementation have been utilized to the fullest, so to reach a new level of business efficiency they need a new approach, based on the latest technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning or Artificial Intelligence (AI), argues Gabriel Voicila, Technology Partner, PwC.

According to a recent study by PwC and the Brunswick Group conducted globally, 70% of managers surveyed said they use automation and AI to identify ways to improve their business and making their operations smarter. But with so many options in cloud computing, cyber security, specialized software and other operational services, as well as emerging technologies such as machine learning, blockchain and drones, companies need to make the right choices for businesses to focus on technology investments.

Thus, smart technologies such as RPA, machine learning and chatbot offer new companies opportunities to improve the performance of operational processes and achieve significant savings. They can be implemented quickly, with low costs, which allow new levels of productivity. The impact can be significant: automation can improve the productivity of individual processes by 80% to 100% and by 20% or more of the general functions.

Automation could reduce by up to 46% the time and cost of key processes such as billing, management reporting, accounting and budgeting, says the report. At the same time, financial professionals could focus on higher-value activities, such as complex financial analyzes, forecasts and multi-year budget projects. A similar level of improvement is possible in other functions, such as customer service, supply chain management and sales. Digital transformation is actually a journey that requires a dynamic strategy and, at the same time, a holistic approach, meaning: people and departments, processes and technology.

Automation solutions must be clearly based on the overall business strategy of an organization, in order for them to reap maximum benefits. It is about understanding the needs and seeing beyond optimizations and improvements. Mapping all departments and processes in the company is very important in this case.

At the same time, the right people need to be identified and trained.

Employees feel threatened by new technologies, but with the help of well-structured and targeted upskilling programs, they can adapt and learn how to work with artificial intelligence, analyze data, discover and apply on-the-go solutions and take on new roles that suppose the use of the latest technologies.

Last but not least, it is the strategy that will make the difference. Companies need to know their own strengths and have an overview of all processes, people and technologies to anticipate change and make decisions accordingly.

Digital transformation is neither easy nor cheap, as the figures show – globally, investments in this area are close to 3.8 trillion this year – yet, it is inevitable, and the companies that strategically approach it have greater chances of being leaders in their field.

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