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To Bot or Not to Bot - Is that the only question?

“If you do not digitally transform your business, then someone else will do it for you.” - Marie Myers, Director, Global Controller, HP Inc.

I recently heard Marie Myers, a fantastic finance thought-leader at Hewlett Packard, at the North American Shared Services Summit.  She was highly energetic at 8am eastern and within minutes had the audience pondering the question: What does “digital disruption” really mean?

The answer is, according to Maria, it means that companies need a steady stream of disrupting ideas. She was warming us up to hear her story- digital transformation at HP implementing RPA.  

Robot thinking-min-1


“Did you know that by 2020, analysts predict that you will have more daily conversations with bots than you will with your spouse?” Maria stated.   For some of us that may not be a high bar to overcome but all the same, that is a bold statement, right? Well, not really. Instinctively most finance and shared services leaders know that digital transformation is a “must-do” in order to stay competitive in the next 5 years.

But, before we go on, let's review:  What is digital transformation?

Digital Transformation

According to Mark Samuels, IT Technologist writer at ZDNET, digital transformation involves using digital technologies to remake a process to become more efficient or effective. The idea is to use technology not just to replicate an existing service in a digital form, but to use technology to transform that service into something significantly better.

Got it.  So, digital transformation is really about using technology to transform your business process.

Okay, let’s go back to Maria’s story.  “They say that RPA is the gateway drug to cognitive computing so we had to jump in. At HP, we decided the first process to RPA test was the Cash Application process because there was a big upside.” In the end, Maria was able to reduce the workflow time from 50 hours to 8 hours - simplifying and speeding up the process.  It’s a great story, there is no doubt!

What Are your Options?

But RPA is just one solution out of a menu of technology options – and, because it is a relatively new idea, many companies are giving it a lot of attention.

And yet, how many of you still have paper or emailed invoices that have to get “touched” in order to get paid? It’s okay, you don’t need to be embarrassed but we know you are out there.

There are a lot of companies jumping on the Bot Bandwagon and spending a lot of time doing small RPA pilot programs but these companies are ignoring the elephant in the room- their purchase order and invoicing processes are built on old technology that has very low supplier adoption.   I know this sounds obvious but if your suppliers aren’t using your Supplier Portal (you have a Portal, right?) then you aren’t getting the ROI on the technology.

If you are one of those teams debating about whether to keep your old technology and use RPA to try to lower your exceptions rate or if your team has a Supplier Portal that only has 30% to 40% supplier adoption, you should call Direct Commerce, a Best-in-Breed P2P digital technology company.  If for no other reason than to benchmark against its customers like Walmart, Eli Lilly, The Home Depot, Eli Lilly, Merck and the list goes on. Get some best practices.

So, here is a disruptive technology idea …considering replacing that old technology with SaaS-based P2P automation technology that really works and is easy to use!

As Jim Miller, CEO at Arevo posted in Forbes:

Accept the inevitable: It’s safe to assume that digitization will likely transform every aspect of your business and your business model.  

Don’t bury your head in the sand, rationalize or ignore it! To quote my former CEO, Andy Grove, “only the paranoid survive.”  And if there is any time to take this sage advice, this is a good one! Balance fear and paranoia with exuberance for the new opportunities for your business.

Topics: News, eInvoicing, Automation, RPA