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Using AI, RPA and Machine Learning in Finance and Procurement: Reality or Just Hype?

08 August 2018

5 minute read

Using AI, RPA and Machine Learning in Finance and Procurement: Reality or Just Hype?

So much is being said about the power of emerging technologies. But have they emerged already / are they in use? And what does this have to do with Steve Jobs? This blog post takes a brief look at three popular technologies already in use today, namely: machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) and explains how they are being used to work towards 100% visibility of spend.

 

How can technology and people combine to get 100% visibility?

Imagine if everyone had 100% visibility of their financial spend across procurement and accounts payable. It may sound like a pipe dream, but we believe it’s possible. We’ve already seen examples of 100% spend visibility, 100% invoice capture, 100% user adoption and 100% supplier adoption.
 
The next step is to help our customers combine these powerful numbers and apply them to their own business by combining human talents and technology in a way that plays to both their respective strengths.

Robotic Process Automation

At Basware we use RPA behind the scenes – to speed up and improve technology that pulls data from a specific format from one system and combines / transforms / integrates it using a ‘virtual hand’ to pull the information together. Using RPA helps us ensure we meet our service level agreements. For example, we might use it to improve vendor management and gather data when a new supplier is added to the system. The data is pre-populated (for example, using Dun & Bradstreet information) and it takes less time for a human to approve them and start buying goods or services from them.

AI and Machine Learning

Steve Jobs used to say that when user experience is done well it becomes invisible – the system simply works delightfully well and you enjoy the outcomes of it. At Basware, what we’re trying to accomplish is to enable analytics, reporting and business processes to work seamlessly (and invisibly) in the background so that the outcome (using the system) is delightful, efficient and well-performing. It’s working, according to this case study, one of many similar Basware customer stories.
 
“From the users’ point of view, Basware was the best choice. The user interface is easy to use and the reporting tools are exactly what we wanted.” – Ahti Väätäinen @ Valmet

How does it all work together?

Let’s use the example of late payments to explain how it all works together. At Basware, we’ll first find out which invoices may cause concerns, generally. Then we’ll figure out how to solve this problem (for example, people don’t know how to code invoices) and create rules and ‘tips’ to teach a system to look for, resolve, and learn from. Then we apply machine learning.
 
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as we creatively apply new technologies every day. For example, some of the ways in which we have applied AI, RPA and machine learning recently include:

In terms of analytics, Basware has a supplier spend dashboard that helps procurement make better and faster decisions by providing visibility into historical spend data and trends.
 
When it comes to smart coding, Basware leverages technology that eliminates the need for humans to manually code invoices – even if there is no purchase order available to match the invoice!
 
And as far as big data procurement goes, as an e-procurement solution provider (which is just part of our full P2P suite), Basware is at the cutting edge of procurement technology, including predicting approval times for order requests, recommending popular products, predicting invoices that are likely to be paid late, and forecasting budget allocations.

Emerging technologies have already emerged

Forget about robots being a thing of the future. They’re already part of many modern software solutions. This isn’t something to be afraid of. It’s something to embrace.
 
Basware works together with our customers to use advanced technologies like AI, RPA and machine learning, to remove painful, manual steps so that people can do what they’re good at: collaborating, generating insights, and using systemic thinking and reasoning.

At the end of the day, we do the hard work, so you can do the hard thinking

We believe in customer collaboration. No-one in finance and procurement customers should have to waste time finding the best technology to solve their challenges. Instead, we work with our customers to help identify those challenges, prioritise them, and then we identify the right combination of software solutions behind the scenes that leverage the power of these emerging technologies so our customers can solve their challenges sooner.
 
Would you like help solving your finance and procurement challenges? Get in touch. We’d love to help.