Corporate Finance Wants to be Automated, But Mostly Isn’t

June 19, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

While it’s a big name, and growing, in payments and financial processes, Serrala recently discovered that there are plenty of corporate finance operations that could use more automation in their own processes. What’s more, those same corporations are the same ones who want very badly to be automated, as a recent study it conducted and tipped us off about found.

Serrala’s study touched on over 180 global finance leaders, and found that, while corporate finance wants to be automated, it generally isn’t. The study found 98 percent of respondents call “increasing automation” a priority, but only nine percent call their own processes fully automated.

Of course, some here might say these numbers make sense; 98 percent call it a priority because 91 percent aren’t fully automated at all. Why make a priority out of something that’s already done? That’s like saying your next priority is finding a good meal after you left the all-you-can-eat buffet. However, most companies haven’t left the appetizer stage yet; 71 percent noted their financial processes are only “somewhat automated”.

Even within the desire to automate, there are different goals pursued; 26 percent of leaders wanted to focus on order-to-cash processes as the most critical step, while cash management came in at 19 percent. Procure-to-pay tied with record-to-report at 16 percent, while treasury functions came in at 12 percent. Actual payments finished the list at 11 percent.

Basically, the spirit is willing, but the flesh isn’t holding up. It’s a surprise to see so many companies interested in automation and mobile payments processes, among other fintech offerings, but so few companies actually following up on that interest. While payments advances have certainly demonstrated their value, there may still be recalcitrance thanks to perceptions about security, or even about value. Just because you want to automate, after all, doesn’t mean it’s cost effective, or would produce sufficient savings afterward to recover the costs.

Those looking to help businesses automate payment processes—and mobile payments can definitely help out here—should take note, and work accordingly. Sell to security, and sell to cost savings; businesses want value and protection, and if they have that, they can act on their desire to automate.