Sage Summit looks to the future

Published Thursday, April 13, 2017 6:25 AM by Dean McGlone, V1

But the era of invisible accounting is already here and now

Last week saw the Sage Summit bring together thousands of businesses from across the UK, and the take-aways were very much around future technology trends – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Bots, Machine Learning – which can be very relevant for small and medium sized businesses in particular, not just enterprises. This tied nicely into the news that apparently 86% of accountants are finally ready to use technology that automates administrative processes! According to Sage’s research, one in three still use manual methods as part of their record keeping processes.

One of the key themes was all about the reduction of complexity – from applying smart thinking to accounting processes, such as quarterly reporting – through to the use of AI and some new innovations, such as its new chatbot, Pegg – just like Siri but relevant specifically to the needs of accountants.

For us, we’re excited because much of this isn’t about the future but instead about real-life technology applications in the here and now. For example, we’re already working with many companies to automate financial business processes – admittedly primarily invoice and sales order processes – using cognitive capture driven by AI. This includes advanced imagery, natural language learning and machine learning technology. At V1, we’ve applied machine learning to read and interpret semi-structured content intelligently, ensuring that the right data is captured and extracted automatically. So when Forrester talks about new trends around cognitive computing, we’re seeing businesses of all sizes use our software in this area to deliver a difference now.

What’s important is how this can drive efficiencies and save costs by automating processes, making sure workflows are as streamlined as possible. For example, the average business spends 30% of its turnover on overheads so seeing a quick ROI against this is invaluable – on average, our customers see a return on investment within six months. Using technologies like OCR, invoice recognition and automated machine verification of invoices can ensure an expedient and secure process of paying supplier invoices.

So whilst we were excited to hear the progress that Sage is making in the area of bots, AI, and cloud developments, we were pleased to measure the success we have already achieved together in empowering finance departments in automation and achieving ‘invisible administration’. For us, it demonstrates today that it’s not all future gazing. As a certified finance automation solution for Sage X3’s ERP solution, as well as providing the same for other key solutions such as Sage 200, the era of invisible accounting is already upon us.

Whether our V1 software is adopted on premise or in the cloud, white-labelled within these leading finance management solutions from partners such as Sage, we’re hoping that the findings of Sage’s research next year is that it’s no longer a question of whether businesses are ready to adopt technology or not, but more about which organisations have found the greatest ROI from their digital transformation of financial processes.

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