2020 marks the year of digital transformation for a large number of global organizations. The pandemic pushed businesses and customers to adopt and adapt to digital solutions at an unprecedented speed. A trending topic for years, digital transformation and digitization is now a resilience and survival strategy for businesses and financial organizations alike.
Digital payments may be a norm in some parts of the world, but business operations of many organizations still rely on traditional infrastructure held together by complex integrations and siloed systems. Data and information locked in offline documents inaccessible to remote workers, threatens to derail business operations while the cash flow remains locked in traditional payment systems such as invoices and checks.
Additionally, with manual processing of payments and invoices, organizations spend valuable time making calls, sending emails, confirming receipts, researching missing data, and routing paper to and from vendors. This cumbersome process has a significant negative impact on payment cycle times, which further depreciate due to remote working mandates.
Data-led automation maintains liquidity
Finances, liquidity, and payments ruled the boardroom discussions as organizations navigated the ups and downs caused by the pandemic. Not surprisingly, last year saw a sharp rise in investment in platforms that digitize and automate critical business functions, including payments. Solutions to make invoice management, accounts payable systems, and settlements more digital-friendly saw remarkable growth.
Payments and F&A related data remain some of the most valuable assets for any organization. One of the first steps to successful digitization is to capture data from all offline and online sources to create a robust information management system. Information flows feed every business process. Businesses cannot impact the customer’s digital experience without digital information. Knowledge workers of an organization cannot do their jobs without the right access to the right information at the time they need it. Process automation cannot happen without digital information. It all begins with data.
Structuring unstructured data
Valuable business data is often scattered across different locations and departments; it can be in the historic paper files across offices, in the stacks of envelopes and parcels that arrive daily via the mail, or the electronic stream of business data gathered by numerous portals and apps of an organization. But simply collecting data is not enough, structuring and indexing this data is critical to making it accessible and to using it effectively. For instance, payment settlement of a check can be done remotely and digitally only if the information such as account number, amount, and date is securely shared with the remote employee in the correct digital format.
Technology companies like Exela provide intelligent capture solutions under various models of Digital Mailroom. Physical documents are delivered as digitized data to the right department within an organization. Optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) technologies use AI engines to ensure the data quality and information meet the stringent requirements set by organizations.
These active data streams become the bedrock of the information management systems. The data can be further distributed, made accessible or archived for future use, saving costs, time, and human effort.
Channeling information to the right place
Digitized data left sitting on a server is no more useful than a paper file in a forgotten cabinet. To use data to its full potential, the right business process should have access to the data at the right time. Location and industry agnostic solutions such as Exela Digital Mailroom portal intelligently manage the routing and distribution of the incoming data. The portal is equipped with various innovative features that give an organization complete control over the chain of command and security of their data.
Let’s take check clearing as an example. Suppose a check is sent to a bank’s PO to be settled within a week. With the Digital Mailroom solution, this check is scanned, indexed, and the important information regarding the payment settlement is securely sent to the right team via the digital portal, all within minutes! This entire process can be done at the bank premises or at an Exela facility, leaving valuable space for the bank’s core business requirements. The portal allows redaction of data to ensure security and transparency in the chain of commands for a complete overview. Additional services such as same day settlements allow the bank to predict their daily liquidity – a valuable insight for any organization.
The same process applies for invoices, digital solutions that work in sync for the entire invoice management and payments process could provide the much-needed respite to businesses trying to successfully manage the effects of the pandemic. And in the process of digitizing a department, the organization transforms itself into a future-ready business prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Digitize, automate, and transform
What starts as an effort in systematic delivery of digital data, plays an even more important role in the larger picture. As department after department adopts digitization and automation, a transformational change can be seen across the entire organization. If anything, the year gone by shows that location agnostic digitized solutions, automation, and digital transformation are key to driving businesses forward.