In corporate finance, automation changed the game. Accountants and other financial professionals once tasked with manual processes and number-crunching were freed up to focus on more strategic initiatives.
But there’s a new FinTech trend that wants to empower financial execs even more, with some players acknowledging that basic automation falls short.
Robotics process automation (RPA) is a recent favorite among some B2B FinTechs. Corporate accounting software company Gappify, for instance, announced only weeks ago that it is rolling out an RPA-fueled bot to automate many accounting processes — that is, to automate processes without requiring human intervention to initiate that automation. Around the same time as Gappify’s news, another corporate accounting software firm, FloQast, revealed the launch of Cloud Connect, an RPA-based solution to help companies more easily access data stored within on-premise ERP systems.
Investors are perking up to the sudden interest in robotics process automation.
Speaking with PYMNTS, Kryon CEO Harel Tayeb explained why robotics process automation has such vast potential in B2B payments.
“RPA offers any business that relies on rule-based processes, whether that be financial or otherwise, the opportunity to boost profitability, increase operational efficiency and maintain a competitive advantage by automating much of the high-volume and repetitive processes,” Tayeb said.
This type of technology, he continued, means financial executives can “offload a huge swatch of operational tasks” — those processes that are tedious and time-consuming, but necessary, like invoice processing, expense report auditing and so on. RPA integrates what Harel Tayeb described as a “virtual workforce of software robots ... [that] can perform these tasks more efficiently than human employees, thus making employees available for more creative assignments.”
While robotics process automation is a relatively young technology, the executive said it’s already proven itself as a tool that can “drastically improve efficiency and process execution for enterprises of all shapes and sizes.”
“RPA and other digital tools are quickly becoming indispensable to the corporate finance industry as the pressure for accounting and financial professionals to accomplish more with fewer resources and less time is constantly on the rise,” stated Tayeb.
Automation initiated this capability for many organizations. But, according to Tayeb, RPA goes further, offering a more flexible technology.
“Workplaces are dynamic,” he said, “in that they have a shifting set of needs and rely on employees to wear different hats when the need arises and be efficient in executing tasks to make the business successful.”
“Traditional automation services require enormous amounts of work for IT departments, while RPA was developed to be as simple as possible for enterprises to adopt, integrate and evolve as their internal needs change,” the CEO continued.
As the technology continues to evolve, and as more use cases are defined, the potential for RPA to disrupt not just corporate accounting but also the way in which businesses operate overall, is significant. But that doesn’t mean the tool will have an easy time stepping into that role. The initial emergence of automation led to widespread concern that accountants and other professionals would lose their jobs to robots; critics of RPA could have the same fears.
“We still need to educate the workforce that the myth that digital transformation will take away millions of jobs is just that: a myth,” Tayeb said, noting that strategic deployment of RPA solutions can result in a hybrid workforce of both bots and humans. “New technologies always lead to new jobs.”
Without doubt, companies will need a bit more convincing. Startups like Kryon and other B2B FinTechs won’t just be some of the first to put RPA to use in the enterprise, they’ll be on the front lines of pushing adoption of the solution. If Kryon’s latest funding is any sign, it looks like venture capitalists are ready to throw their support behind the effort too. The company said it will use the $12 million to focus on sales and marketing, as well as on engineering efforts to continue building out its solutions.
Its CEO said he is optimistic about RPA’s ability to break through enterprise doubts.
“Businesses ... are eager to optimize their operations, which is why RPA as a disruptive technology has been, and will continue to be, well-received,” said Tayeb. “Innovation is critical to the viability and success of businesses, especially in competitive, fast-paced markets.
“RPA enables a substantial amount of work processes to be handed over to a virtual ‘bot’ workforce, but human employees are not about to disappear,” he emphasized. “Rather, RPA enables businesses to maximize the potential and productivity of employees by freeing up their time and focus on different tasks that require a more human touch.”