Technology Walks To Help With Business Shifts In Pandemic

She has 19+ years of experience in curating growth for business and helps in development of professionals with management of complex transformations.

The current global health crisis changed the way businesses used to operate. There was an overnight shift to remote working model and organisations had to quickly pivot to provide necessary support to their employees to keep the work going. Many businesses weren't ready for remote work at the start of the pandemic, but there has been continued investment in digital transformation initiatives. The quantum of work across industries slowed down initially but as remote working was streamlined and people became comfortable with it, we saw the industry gradually pick up the pace.

According to McKinsey Global Survey of Executives, Asia-Pacific region witnessed a 10-year leap in the speed of digital adoption in creating products and services ­ 54 percent of which were partially or fully digitized. The pandemic has made organisations recognize inadequacies and address the emerging needs in their IT infrastructure. It has also highlighted the loopholes that exist in manual process thereby providing an added emphasis on adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-based digital solutions.

The pandemic has made organisations realize the importance of digital transformation and has resulted in accelerated adoption of digital solutions. Organisations identified the processes that relied heavily upon human intervention and hence, needed to be automated. The key learning was that technology has the power to tide over the uncertainties and can help organisations become resilient for any similar incidents in the future.

Major Tech-Based Challenges And Opportunities Post Pandemic
The pandemic has pushed a large part of global workforce in the confines of their homes which, as a result, has been working remotely. In such a scenario, technology has proven to be one of the most valuable assets.

Cloud adoption would be a big part as finance leaders would look at digitizing quickly to achieve analytical capabilities, scalability, ease-of-operations, improved customer experience and reduced security risks.

There will also be opportunities to develop Intelligent Assistants that will go beyond automatic data capture and analysis to predicting and making recommendations based on instantaneous analysis of a variety of data sources. For example - assistants powered by AI and ML will predict when a company would exceed budgetary limitations based on its previous spending patterns and those at similar organizations. It would also make recommendations to maximize budget, while also maintaining the employee experience, based on employee satisfaction studies and costs and policies at other companies.

We are looking forward to enhanced focus on enriching the employees' experience and providing them with the required support to increase their productivity and positive sentiments. In order to improve the employee experience, mobile tools with the latest technologies like AI and ML will emerge as major facilitators. Once business travel gradually starts, there would be renewed emphasis on providing digital solutions for processes like expense claims and employee safety. This will give impetus to the use of intelligent digital solutions ­ like SAP Concur's travel and expense solutions - by organizations across all sectors.

The pandemic has drastically changed the way businesses used to operate. With lockdowns, social distancing norms and the advent of a hybrid workforce, the need for remote collaboration between departments and virtual communication between employees has been paramount for business continuity

In the arena of business travel, ML is expected to continue to alleviate pain points in corporate travel programs by redirecting tedious tasks with automated technology. As ML recognizes patterns in traveler behaviours, it will move from anticipating and recommending itineraries, to completely booking travel based on past experiences, calendar holds, user profiles and preferred loyalty programs.

The evolving role of finance is another change in the post-COVID era that has become the key driver of business growth in the new normal. Finance leaders have to play a crucial role of taking critical business decisions based on the budget versus spend analysis. To manage their financial health and maintain a healthy cash flow, companies will need 100 percent visibility and control over their operational expenditure. This would further accelerate the adoption of Intelligent Spend Management (ISM) solutions to ensure effective spend governance in the organizations.

How AI Will Change Businesses
As businesses will continue to maintain hybrid remote-working models and would want to be prepared for any other unforeseen disruptions, the role of AI use cases in the workplace is expected to grow in 2021 and beyond. These may include enabling efficient day-to- day communications between knowledge workers doing their jobs from home and automating invoicing and expenses to keep valued partners paid on time and to preserve budgets. We will see more businesses leaning on AI algorithms to make decisions to support real-time financial transparency to meet the business needs brought on by the pandemic. This includes managing spending in near real-time to improve budget management and liquidity, increasing compliance and eliminating errors, and maximizing profitability.

There will be a broader use of AI to add intelligence to applications and eliminate manual processes to give firms a much-needed competitive boost by improving their productivity. Firms can make considerable savings each year - and improve employee satisfaction and experience- by automating their finance and administration processes. This will further kick demand for AI into overdrive for more back-office operations in areas such as Accounts Payable (AP) and Accounts Receivable (AR).

Importance For Enterprises To Invest In Digital Tools
The pandemic has drastically changed the way businesses used to operate. With lockdowns, social distancing norms and the advent of a hybrid workforce, the need for remote collaboration between departments and virtual communication between employees has been paramount for business continuity.

In such a scenario, technology is proving to be one of the most valuable assets. Obsolete processes that were dependent on paper and constant human intervention, have proved to be inefficient and vulnerable to the rapidly changing circumstances. Technologies ­ like AI, ML, cloud-based services ­ transcend the boundaries and limitations of physical dependency. Digital solutions can help automate repetitive tasks and eliminate the need for any human intervention. This can help in improving efficiency and productivity while reducing human error and time needed. It can also free up valuable employee time that can be used in more business-critical tasks.

For example - Finance departments that operated using paper-based invoices and reports hit a major roadblock once everyone started working remotely. Use of integrated ISM solutions has helped companies in streamlining their expense processes bringing peace of mind to the employees and ease for the finance departments. ISM solutions can further help the business leaders to keep an eye on spends, find ways to tighten the control and best direct cash flow. This allows the business leaders to create a more agile and resilient enterprise and set the groundwork for the new world to come.