This referenced posting in PaymentsSource, contributed by a payments automation fintech exec, is reflective of what we have been consistently hearing over time, and more pointedly since the pandemic onset. In effect the future is coming forward in an accelerated manner, as companies wake up to the risks associated with conducting financial processes in a business-as-usual mode; meaning manual and paper based workflow. The inertia is being overcome by practical distancing experiences and the impact on business continuity planning.
‘The adoption of technologies and ideas that drive modern and innovative ways of working has long been a focus for businesses, but the need has never been more acute or the timeline more compressed than it is right now. Simply put, the pandemic we’re all navigating our way through now has made it clear that the time to accelerate the digital transformation of B2B payments is now…There are several ways the coronavirus has shown that traditional manual, paper-based AP processes are not up to the task in 2020 and beyond.’
The author goes on to point out some of the shortcomings associated with the non-digital process work paradigm: these include increased fraud risk, manual inefficiencies (errors, time, re-work), inability to execute (BCP) and liquidity issues (A/R delays). We might add to that list one of the hidden issues with financial operations automations gaps; that is the opportunity cost related to the failure to capture and utilize the rich data sets available in the transaction schemes. The technology is now available (and getting better) for analyzing these flows and making better decisions going forward. Those that miss the boat on this point will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage not too far down the road from now.
‘A major catalyst for change is almost always tied to an event that brings to the forefront tactics and strategies that people knew they should have embraced before, but for good reasons or simply inertia did not. While I don’t foresee an end to paper payments in the next few years, there is absolutely no doubt the acceleration of a digital-first approach in the B2B payments space is already happening. Even after the current pandemic passes, the future of B2B payments will continue to be about automating more processes, enabling remote work and business continuity, enhancing security and decreasing the global reliance on paper in accounts payable. The right set of payment technologies can help finance professionals fully embrace the technology available to them today and future proof their processes for the long-term.’
Overview provided by Steve Murphy, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group.