Technology is changing before our eyes; every day there will be a news item about AI, machine learning or automation. In the home, our smart plugs are controlling our lights and we can control our heating from our phones. Netflix curates lists of recommended programs for us using AI, meaning what you see on the menu will be different to what I see. This is all good, right? Simple straightforward technology that’s easy to setup and use.

But, what do we want in our work life? We have been able to outsource mundane tasks to more cost-effective resources for years, but now we have technology that can do things that previously took us hours. In our world, we can have invoices recognized saving us keying-in time. The same technology is out there for time sheets and expenses. In fact, the recognition is actually becoming commoditised with more and more choices. To a certain extent, that’s not the clever bit. It’s the making sense of the data that counts and that’s where the next phase of automation comes in.

For instance, double-checking bank details on an invoice is a painfully slow process, yet essential as faking these details is the biggest fraud entry-point for all organisations. Software can perform this task in an instant, flagging any anomalies that need investigation. And it gets it right 100% of the time.

Automating just this task can save hundreds of working hours every year and dramatically reduce financial fraud.

If an invoice is recognised, and fully matches a pre-approved purchase order, then it can be routed into the accounts system automatically. Machine learning can be used to police the coding and all this can happen 24/7 without any human intervention.

Automation is coming to a finance team near you. There is no doubt about that, and it will be a force for good. But having the structure and plan in place will make sure you are in control at all times.