What Robotics Can Do In Finance
Excerpt from "What Robotics can do in Finance," by Sam Shaw for The Sunday Times, June 23, 2019.
The mention of robotics in finance and accounting might lead many to envisage teams of metal creatures scurrying around an office, rapidly shifting paper from one pile to another. But while such images from science fiction are a million miles from reality, they may be responsible for some of the hype surrounding the concept.
Often when corporate buzz finds its way into everyday parlance, it piques broader consumer interest, but also tends to be simplified, helping to gain resonance with people outside the sector. Typically, this means things get interpreted, or misinterpreted, so buzzwords and phrases are bandied about in a somewhat virtuous circle of hype.
For example, automation and robotics in finance and accounting refer to pretty much the same thing, don’t they? Surely, both can take over processes that would benefit people working in the finance department.
But Andromeda Wood, senior director of data modelling at US-based Workiva, says: “Many use the terms ‘robotics’ and ‘automation’ interchangeably; when I talk about the two, I think of two different things.
“Robotics is something that’s a very through process, very rigid and rules based that doesn’t really involve the people using it. Whereas we see ourselves sitting more in the automation space, which although very similar, hence why so many mix up the terms, refers to a far more interoperable, customisable process.”
Workiva, a global cloud provider of connected data, reporting and compliance solutions, includes the finance departments of many of the world’s leading banks, pharmaceutical companies, technology, data and media companies, among its clients.
Ms Wood explains that robotics and automation both use computer technology to do rules-based, repetitive tasks, but automation in finance, or any other sector, involves a closer partnership with the workforce.
“The terminology can make it more difficult for people to understand which bits of technology they need; what they are worried about and where to start,” she says.
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