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  • Writer's pictureDimitrios Christodoulopoulos

Moving Towards an AI-Forward, Autonomous Finance Future in South Africa

The South African economy has been on a steady incline in recent years, with a strong focus on technology and innovation. Finance leaders see the need for investment in technology, which has the potential to drive even more growth. In order to stay ahead of the curve, it is important for businesses to move towards an autonomous future. This will allow them to not only keep up with global changes, but to also anticipate and adapt to future trends.

However, just around 21% employ machine learning (ML), predictive analytics, natural language processing, or blockchain. Failure to implement these technologies slows organisations' capacity to transport information quickly with little to no human interaction, exposing them to shocks like inflation, global wars, and pandemics.

Harnessing the Power of EPM Technologies and AI for FP&A

Taking as an example the traditional financial planning and analysis (FP&A) process; it is manual, cumbersome, and time-consuming. FP&A teams spend hours each month collecting data from various sources, inputting it into spreadsheets, and running calculations to generate reports. This process is not only error-prone, but it also doesn’t allow for timely decision-making.

To address these challenges, many organisations are turning to enterprise performance management (EPM) technologies and artificial intelligence (AI). By leveraging these technologies, organisations can create an autonomous finance future where the FP&A process is automated and decisions are made in real-time.

At PRYZM, we have been working closely with our clients to help them overcome these challenges.

1. Automating Data Collection and Input

One of the biggest challenges in the FP&A process is manually collecting data from various sources with inconsistent data formats and inputting it into spreadsheets. This is a time-consuming, error-prone and labour intensive process.

EPM platforms like OneStream and Planful, enable data to be collected automatically from multiple sources and loaded into the system through direct integration and process scheduling. This not only saves time, but it also improves integrity and transparency as the platforms take care of the data cleansing and quality through dynamic transformation and validation rules.

Finance teams can therefore be confident in their data and focus on value-add activities.

2. Generating Accurate Reports

Another struggle in the FP&A process is the ability to generate accurate reports whilst having the flexibility to dynamically pivot the data in order to cater for the ever growing stakeholder reporting needs. This is due to the reliance on a fragmented mix of reporting tools such as siloed spreadsheets, legacy software and BI applications. Meaning that the reporting teams need to copy and paste data, reconcile and format reports on an ongoing basis.

With built-in reporting capabilities, EPM platforms allow users to access unified financial and operational data to create dynamic reports that generate results quickly and accurately. With clear audit trails and drill-through capabilities, accessing data across all layers becomes seamless.

3. Enabling Real-Time Decision-Making

The first step is to invest in the right solutions and processes necessary to capture data in real-time through a variety of data feeds and devices. But in order to maximise the return on investment in technology, it is important to create a culture that allows people to act on data.

One of the biggest benefits of unified EPM platforms that leverage ML/AI is that with the right configuration they can enable real-time decision-making. By building analytics capabilities directly into their workflows users can easily apply the insights to their daily activities. Organisations can therefore be more agile and responsive to changes in the market as they work with the most up-to-date information.

4. Improving Organisational Efficiency

By introducing the right automation into the FP&A process, organisations can free up resources that can be better used elsewhere.

In addition, EPM technologies can help organisations make better decisions by providing accurate and timely information, avoid costly mistakes and improve overall decision-making.

5. Creating a Competitive Advantage

Finally, organisations that are already in their digital transformation journey and are moving towards an autonomous finance future will be able to make better and faster decisions than their competitors. This allows them to gain a significant advantage in the market and maintain a leadership position.

PRYZM helps organisations future-proof their businesses by defining a clear digital strategy, orchestrating the right combination of human and machine talent and enabling the finance function to deliver value by exploiting all sources of data and technology.

Connect with us to find out how we are supporting clients in their digital transformation journey and how we can help you drive efficiencies across your processes.

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