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I, robot? …CFOs set to utilise robotics

CFOs may be hiring robots as the next stage in delivering a more effective and efficient business.

That’s one of the findings in a new ACCA report – The robots are coming? Implications for financial shared services.

Jamie Lyon, co-author of the report and ACCA’s head of corporate sector, said: “Robotics is evocative, it is high-tech, and, most importantly, it is emblematic of what many see as the next natural step in the evolution of business process delivery. Namely – fewer people in favour of intuitive, machine-based learning technologies.

“However, talking to finance leaders during our research, they are clearly not sure about the benefits of wholesale automation of this type. Many still can’t understand what it really means for finance.”

Evangelists claim compelling numbers in support of robotics in finance, with a potential 50% reduction in future costs. But Lyon says there is significant trepidation among CFOs on the issue.

“There needs to be far more clarity on the proposition for finance beyond headcount reduction. Yes, the numbers seem appealing, but finance directors are unclear about the hard benefits of robotics over and above its cost efficiency when compared to employees,” he said.

According to the report, the relatively poor penetration into finance that robotics has experienced to date may be down to the approach taken to selling the technology, both by external vendors and internally to budget holders.

Deborah Kops, co-author and managing principal of Sourcing Change, said: “Finance leaders are always seeking better practices. If robotics is going to make the kind of inroads into the finance function that many believe they should, the value proposition needs to be on domain-rich, transformative solutions.”

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