FinTechAutomationTech, transformation and treasury: the current position

Tech, transformation and treasury: the current position

What's the reality when it comes to treasury and technology-led transformation? We share some key pointers.

At this month’s Kyriba Live event in Las Vegas, Paul Bramwell, Partner/Principal, Global Treasury Services Leader, Eastern Region & National Treasury Technology Lead at EY, shared some of his thoughts on how technology is impacting treasury departments. Here are some of the key talking points from that session.

The current push to implement technology in treasury

Technology and technology is an interesting topic – treasurers are always faced with new technology solutions.

As we all know, treasury really is the lifeblood of an organisation. It’s where the cash flows through and it’s critical to the business. Regardless of what each individual business is doing, the treasury function is very similar – and that means technology has to be effective. We get a lot of calls from our clients asking what we should be doing from a technology roadmap perspective, and it’s striking how many treasurers don’t have long-term visions around what technology they are going to turn to.

Right now, a lot of the disruption we’re seeing is around robotics, blockchain, AI and BI. To some degree they’re the shiny objectives that get the attention. Everybody wants to sound smart when the CFO or the CTO asks: “Should we putting robots in treasury?” or “Should we be buying blockchain?”.

The reality of tech, transformation and treasury

But in reality, what should we be thinking? In terms of blockchain, al too often we see companies setting up solutions because that’s what they want to sell you, not what you need. Knowing what the problem isn’t, is just as important as knowing what the problem is.

For example, blockchain is a great technology, but it won’t enable you to install it and then ditch your workstation. It simply isn’t going to happen. If you look at treasury, so many companies are still using the most popular treasury application in the world – Excel! The sheer number of companies who still do an awful lot of their processing on Excel shows the huge jump to blockchain. The gap is massive. There are valid, real world uses for blockchain – and you’ll likely solutions that will use it as a backbone – but it is only effective where it delivers a practical solution to a problem.

Robotics, another of the much talked about technology, is gaining traction. Some solutions are really quite simple and its really coming of age in terms of how it can be applied. I’m sure there are plenty of treasury departments using robotics as it can add value on a daily basis. That’s why it’s becoming more commonplace.

When it comes to AI and BI, the benefits are fully realised when there’s access to the right data. Fundamentally, everybody needs data to run a business. Nobody thinks, ‘I know, I’ll put that technology in place because it’s really cool’. It has to have a purpose. It’s a means to an end, not an end itself. Getting a handle on data gives you a focus on running the business and optimising the treasury department.

Why every organisation is a technology company

Every single company these days is a technology company. Whether you’re a pharmaceuticals company or an automobile producer or whatever, you’re a technology company because it’s a great enabler. It allows you to get done what needs to be done more efficiently. Transformation and treasury should therefore go hand in hand.

However, something companies perhaps don’t focus enough on is understanding how they can use the technology they’ve invested in work better. We see organisations that have bought something without understanding quite what they want to achieve. They misunderstand the complexities and the value they can leverage out of that technology. Gradually, utilisation dissipates over time and eventually you see the team thinking they need a new system because the old one doesn’t work! Well, it does – you just need to spend money on training or get involved with the product understand what it can do for you and deliver greater value and return on investment.

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