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CFOs need to get on board with hyperautomation, report finds

September 9, 2021, 10:17 AM UTC

Good morning,

CFOs, there are three top strategic technology trends that require your immediate attention, Gartner says. 

In the process of digitization, finance chiefs are “overusing a singular technology tool”—robotic process automation (RPA)—to meet efficiency goals in data management and simplify tasks, according to global research and advisory firm’s new report. So, one of the trends is referred to as hyperautomation, which is a progression of various automation initiatives rather than just sticking with one.

A “robust toolbox enables hyperautomation ambitions,” says Alejandra Lozada, the senior director of research in Gartner’s finance practice. Some of the tools include RPA, artificial intelligence, machine learning (ML), intelligent business process management suites (which automate complex business processes), and event-driven software architecture (which monitors when a transaction takes place), to name a few, Lozada says.

For an example of ML, Gartner points to Iron Mountain, an information management services company that trades under the ticker IRM on the New York Stock Exchange. The company implemented ML to improve its accounts receivable process. After Iron Mountain issues an invoice, an ML model predicts the probability a high-value customer will settle late. For customers with a high probability of doing so, the company contacted them on day 10, instead of waiting until day 30 to find out if the invoice will be paid. As a result, the finance team’s average turnaround time to settle invoices was reduced by 40%, Gartner found.

The good news is incorporating these technologies to reach hyperautomation doesn’t need to happen all at once. The firm suggests CFOs create a multi-year roadmap to hyperautomation and break the implementation into achievable milestones. By 2024, Gartner predicts that companies will reduce operational costs by 30% by combining hyperautomation technologies with redesigned operational processes. 

The reward and risk associated with automation increases as usage shifts from “routine to dynamic,” the report found.

Courtesy of Gartner

The next trend is a “composable financial management system” (FMS). That means the FMS allows for flexibility in the assembly and structure of financial data management. It provides the ability for finance team members “to personalize their own interfaces, reports, dashboards, and workstreams,” Lozada says. The FMS is “an adaptive technology strategy that leverages modern cloud platforms,” she says. The system also allows for integration with other enterprise applications using modern Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The goal is to enable the finance teams to deliver innovation more quickly, according to Gartner. About 50% of financial leaders will incorporate a “composable financial management system” by 2024, the firm predicts.

The third trend? Distributed cloud, in which companies run public cloud infrastructure in numerous locations. It’s operated “not only on your cloud provider’s infrastructure but on premises, in other cloud providers’ data centers, or in third-party data centers or colocation centers,” and everything is managed from “a single control plane,” according to a 2020 IBM report. By 2025, Gartner predicts more than 50% of organizations will use a distributed cloud option to support transformational business models.

There’s been an increased adoption rate of cloud platforms for all finance applications over the past two to three years, the firm noted.


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Return to Work Report, released on September 8 by Medallia, Inc. (NYSE: MDLA), examines how Americans are feeling about the current state of employment. When asked what is most important in choosing a future job, 45% of respondents said wages, 19% said hours and schedule worked, and 11% said workplace flexibility. Due to the Delta variant, 42% of respondents said their workplace policies, such as mask requirements and social distancing, have changed. To obtain the data, Medallia used its product Sense360, a real-time insights platform. The tool "combined data from three sources: foot traffic data from smartphone geolocation of more than 2 million opted-in consumers, spend data from more than 5 million consumers, and psychographic survey data," according to Medallia.

Courtesy of Sense360 By Medallia

Going deeper

Accessibility in Financial Services, a report released on September 8 by Texthelp, examines digital accessibility. The technology company conducted a review of 30 of the top U.S. national and community bank websites, based on revenue, according to the report. Texthelp scanned each bank's site for readability and accessibility using its ReachDeck product. On average, each national bank had 12 errors per page pertaining to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Level AA (acceptable compliance), the report found. And community banks had, on average, 13 WCAG Level AA errors per page. "Digital accessibility must be improved to make sure all people can access financial services online," Texthelp CEO Martin McKay said in a statement

Leaderboard

Ursula Hurley was named CFO at JetBlue, effective immediately. Hurley has served as acting CFO since June 2021. A 17-year veteran of the airline, Hurley previously served as acting CFO and head of treasury and investor relations. She has also held various roles in financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, and investor relations.

Matthew Gallatin was named CFO at Stack Overflow, an information management and collaboration platform. Gallatin most recently served as CFO of Reltio. He previously held CFO roles at Drawbridge, OneLogin, and ShareThis. Gallatin has also worked in finance leadership roles at Brand.net, Yahoo!, and Applied Materials.

Overheard

"The trend of moving away from Wall Street was well in place before 9/11 and then I think that 9/11 accelerated it."

— Richard Sylla, a financial historian and professor emeritus of economics at New York University, on the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as told to Fortune.

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