‘Artificial intelligence’ and ‘automation’ are popular buzzwords that may bring about somewhat negative connotations. Some fear losing jobs to robots or losing control over business processes. Others are ready to jump right in and implement into their own businesses to reap the growing number of benefits. A good example where automation and AI can be implemented, (and has already begun to be widely used) is in the financial sector. Accounts payable is the crux of a finance department which controls all received invoices. Automating these processes may seem scary at first - the idea of losing control over something so vital to a business. In reality, there are numerous benefits that, in the end, improve business processes and a company’s bottom line - while keeping you in charge.
So here it is - Rossum’s list of 4 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Changing (and ultimately improving) Accounts Payable Automation:
1. Time savings: With artificial intelligence, the time to automate accounts payable processes can be greatly reduced. In one example, a company reported that it took over 3 minutes for an accounts payable specialist to manually process a single invoice. After an invoice automation solution was implemented, the time was drastically reduced to 30 seconds per invoice. With automation, 6x the number of invoices can be processed in the same time, leaving more time for extra high priority tasks.
Cognitive data capture technology brings something more to the table. Unlike more traditional “intelligent” data capture systems, there is also no need for any layout configuration, the AI can work without rules or templates from day one. This saves a great deal of effort in the implementation phase, and with cloud-based AI solutions, roll-out is even easier and faster.
2. Accuracy: Imagine your most competent employee. She makes very few mistakes and barely takes breaks, leading to high productivity during the working day. Now imagine if she were to work 24 hours a day at an increased speed and accuracy. Is this sustainable? Or even possible at all? Humans are only capable of working for a short period compared to a machine.
Automation allows for accuracy, speed, and efficiency unparalleled by humans under the same conditions. With the development of artificial intelligence, which constantly gathers information and instills changes, it learns to become more efficient and reduces common human errors. With higher accuracy and precision, you can be more confident in your business processes and, for example, pay more invoices on time, making your customers happy 🙂 When it comes to invoice automation, the more invoices processed, the more accurate the AI. Advances in AI, have allowed for continuous and infinite improvements, called the ‘data network effect’. There is nothing that AI cannot learn given the time and necessary tools for development.
3. Productivity: It is now possible to do the same tasks, but in less time and with reduced errors. This means less double-checking and repeated tasks, leading to higher efficiency and productivity. As stated in Forbes, “Resource-intensive, repetitive tasks, such as data entry and transaction processing, are well suited to automation and AI.” Business processes will continue to be streamlined, so there is less tedious, manual work that employees will need to focus on. As the saying goes, the best way to improve productivity in any company is to work smarter, not harder.With AI, it is possible to supercharge humans and dramatically speed them up, rather than aim at completely eliminating any human touch from the process. There are always edge cases or ambiguities, and all AI technology vendors must embrace that by augmenting workers rather than aiming to completely replace them from the get go. Just the obvious cases should be gone from the worker’s terminal in a blink of an eye.
4. Cost reduction: While it will depend on the industry, jobs lend more easily to automation, which will reduce the cost of hiring new employees in the future (as well as reducing training costs and contributions to benefits). As shown below, the cost of robots has been on a downward trend as labor costs have been rising over the past 28 years.
When it comes to an AI solution, there is no need for rules or templates (compared to alternatives like OCR) which makes implementation a much smaller expense. Thus, there will be a reduction in future employee costs as well as operational costs, paired with an increase in system productivity and a reduction in error, the actual costs for automation will yield returns in a short period of time. You will then be able to invest in further automation or outsourcing. Your company can work at a higher capacity, and can focus its efforts on nurturing current employees and expanding with future projects.
The future of Artificial Intelligence in Accounts Payable:
As shown in the below chart, financial services is one of the leading sectors in the future of AI’s trajectory. Companies that are investing more in automation are seeing themselves as leaders in their sector as compared to those who are not investing nearly enough. With the rise of robots in business, we are just at the start of the automation revolution. All of the above-mentioned benefits are symbiotic, not mutually exclusive. Time management, accuracy, productivity, all work together towards increasing your bottom line. While the technology is still developing, it will only continue to improve as already seen in many of today’s business operations. The ROI potential with AI is exponential.
Where Rossum fits in:
Rossum is an AI company working to automate business processes by eliminating manual data entry tasks. Our invoice data capture tool, Elis, works from day 1 of the implementation without a need to set up rules or templates for capturing each individual invoice layout you are encountering. This can bring the above mentioned benefits of increased productivity and accuracy, time management and cost reduction directly into your AP department. If you are interested in an invoice automation solution, Rossum is offering <300 invoices/month for free to API developers. For larger volumes or a turn-key solution, feel free to fill in our contact form and someone from our team will be in touch to discuss your use case. In the meantime, test out your own invoice right away to check out if artificial intelligence could save you the work!