Finance and IT are on a shared journey, but all too often they wait to talk until the trip is in full swing. Rather than leveraging IT experience to plan the route and create efficiencies along the way, too many businesses seem content to plod along, attributing their inertia to a perceived lack of time and resources.
The contradiction is obvious to Preet Banerjee, a behavioral financial expert, best known for his roles as a panelist on CBC’s The National and guest speaker on Global’s The Morning Show. “The irony is that the same digital tools might give these businesses more time and resources,” he says.
For Banerjee, it all comes down to pop culture and the way people have been conditioned to see IT and tech support as the same thing. “IT is so much more than critical incident support,” he says. “You don’t need to be an IT company to benefit from making information technology a stakeholder in your strategic thinking. In fact, I think it’s a big misstep not to do that in 2022 and beyond.”
Recent research from Oxford Economics agrees that IT needs to play a larger role in setting overall company strategy, yet findings show IT decision-makers are significantly less likely than those from finance to expect to play a larger role in strategic planning. Despite the contention of a September 2022 Gartner article that the best way forward is to create an aligned finance function that adapts to digital ways of working, the research also shows that only 52 per cent of IT decision makers say they collaborate effectively with the finance function.
An ardent auto racing fan who once went to school to become a race car driver, Banerjee says the speed of a car and whether it wins the race is as much about information technology as it is about core technologies. The same, he says, holds true for business – especially in this world of fast changes and nimble competitors. “Rather than formulate a strategy and ask IT to execute it, include them in the collaboration before it gets to the solutioning stage,” he advises. “IT may know about solutions or technologies that would help finance save money and boost productivity.”
Saving money and driving productivity are certainly two of the greatest selling points for expense management solutions, especially in today’s world of economic uncertainty. By automating the expense reporting process, Concur Expense, helps businesses capture spending from multiple sources, plan and make spending decisions based on accurate data, reimburse employees more quickly, and simplify the expense reporting process for everyone. More than that, Concur Expense, gives businesses the visibility required to make spend decisions when it comes to managing budgets and controlling costs.
Concur Travel, another tool in SAP Concur Canada’s cloud-based corporate spend toolkit, is similarly revolutionizing business travel by consolidating travel data in a single solution that improves everything from booking, transportation, and itineraries to expense reporting, compliance management and risk reduction.
To round out automating expense processes to get full visibility is Concur Invoice, which is saving Canadian finance teams an average of $52,000 annually by capturing invoices digitally, automating the payment process, integrating data, and generating reports on cash flow.
In a world of tighter and tighter margins, digitizing finance tasks is the only way to secure a real-time look into capital allocation and cash flow, yet many business leaders feel intimidated by emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and automation. There are other stumbling blocks as well, such as the hassle factor, inertia, and a fear that moving from the known world of paper to the unknown digital landscape will result in increased costs.
Banerjee puts these obstacles in perspective by comparing not having IT at the table to running a 100-metre dash in a potato sack. “You’re putting yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t utilize the tools that are available in today’s innovating, fast-changing marketplace,” he says. “How could you not look at the potential upside of digitization?”
For more information on how to automate expense, travel, and invoice management for organizations of all sizes, visit https://www.concur.ca/.