Julie Missimore

Head of Policy – Americas

Embracing robotic automation during the evolution of finance

We hear it time and time again – we are living in a digital age, a time of great disruption.  Things are changing, and fast, and we expect this to be the new norm in the workplace.  As innovation ramps up, specifically as it relates to technology, the workforce is required to adapt and be agile as companies adopt new technologies designed to make workflow more efficient and allow employees to do less mundane and more strategic tasks.  After all, with great innovation comes great opportunity.

The Research

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) recently conducted research along with KPMG and the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) on embracing robotic automation during the evolution of finance. ACCA and CA ANZ surveyed its members globally to learn more about their views on embracing innovation and change.  Together with KPMG client experience in implementation, this report draws global conclusions on the adoption and implementation of robotics and presents global insights.

The Opportunity

Business leaders realize that they must embrace technological innovation or risk losing any competitive advantage that they might have.  In committing to embrace innovation, organizations need to consider changing their strategic priorities to better deliver digitization and ensure appropriate innovation throughout.  And while technology is an important component to the transformation of a business, it is not the only component. Equally important is the culture of a company and the people.

The benefits of robotic automation are multi-faceted, including improved control being cited as the biggest benefit.  The tasks that a bot can perform are checked and recorded at every step, which provides valuable, analytical information and supplies a crucial audit trail.  Other benefits include the speeds at which bots can process meet business demands and 24/7 operational capabilities.

The Challenges

But while bots can bring benefits to an organization, people can represent some of the key challenges in implementing new technology.  And the people can also provide the greatest opportunities.  ACCA and CA ANZ’s research demonstrated that the key people challenges for technological and robotics implementation in the finance function include 1) a shortage of RPA skills; 2) cultural resistance; and 3) loss of knowledge around core processes as they become automated.

The Solutions

Even with the challenges, the culture of an organization can help lessen the challenges that might arise with the people.  An organization should develop a change management strategy prior to implementation of new technology as a way of better integrating to the humans and the robots.  The leadership should demonstrate clear and visible support for technological innovation, helping instill confidence in their employees.

It is also crucial to ensure that employees feel as though they are part of the process.  When employees support the organization and its strategic priorities, people will be more committed to the success of the program.

And while innovation and the adoption of new technology will be crucial to an organization’s long-term success, so will be change management and ensuring an appropriate culture that encourages adoption and cooperation.

Want to read more on this report from ACCA?  Read more here.