In a challenging geopolitical landscape, where long held assumptions around the fundamental principles of world economics are being questioned, many organisations are looking to new ways of thinking and technology to protect them against risks and take advantage of any opportunities. This year will see ongoing changes in several different areas:
Let’s Get Connected
It will no longer be acceptable for finance leaders to sit in isolation away from the rest of the team and without cementing connections throughout the business, particularly with procurement. With the availability of a large amount of quality data, executives will be expected to provide the C-Suite with meaningful insights. In some cases, these will be delivered on the back of information obtained as a result of business partnering.
IOT – Big Data
Increasingly this connectivity will make itself felt across the supply chain, with technology enabling a global collaboration between suppliers. By combining connected devices and automated activities, organisations will be able to monitor and learn from them and preempt any events along the supply chain. A connected supply chain will be able to spot potential risk, flag it up and make agile decisions in real time.
The need for better transparency across the business, alongside a need to keep costs down, will drive an uptake in innovative cloud solutions. During 2018 around 44% of UK organisations were still in an on-premise only environment. It’s a percentage likely to continue its downward trend over the next year or two.
Security and Fraud
Alongside the push for greater connectivity and transparency, organisations will look to increased security to protect them. Buying organisations will want assurances that their data is secure. In an automated environment, it will be important to ensure that processes exist to protect the data a company holds. Where processes are automatic, organisations will need to ensure that the right levels of checks exist. In other words, they will need a “trust strategy” and conversations around what is fully automated and what has an element of human oversight and cross checking. As new processes develop and to some extent, become more complex, opportunists will see a chance for fraud. The methods used will become ever more sophisticated and are likely to use the new systems against the targeted organisation.
The explosion of robotic processing automation will continue in 2019. Resource intensive, repetitive tasks such as transactional processing will rely less and less on human interaction and become increasingly automated. Rather than face this changing landscape with fear, forward thinking professionals will enjoy the focus on strategic tasks and outcomes that require human empathy and analysis. Increased efficiencies and insights will evolve from the sheer volume of the data being processed through machine learning technology. An AI solution may find patterns and trends that people may miss, and even predict future patterns.
Chat-bots and digital assistants will become more commonplace. In areas like expenses management, travel expenses will be captured as they happen, taking an area of frequent pain away from AP. As Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology becomes more sophisticated, organisations will go one step further with voice activated transactions. Also known as Conversational Commerce, the AI backed technology provides an opportunity for a B2B customer to connect with a “brand” or organisation in a more human way.
The War for Talent
Being able to attract and retain the right people will become crucial. Organisations that are seen as less than agile or without scope for career progression will find it difficult to attract the talent it needs to thrive. The importance of effective change management will continue, and winning organisations will recognise the importance of a continuing programme of talent and skills training.
A strong corporate social responsibility programme will be an important factor when people are choosing between positions. Organisations that can demonstrate that they are actively working to ensure ethical business transactions that engenders a sense of pride in working for a company, will score more highly.