According to Gartner Research, there are top technology trends impacting enterprises as we enter 2022. In this blog, we’ll focus on the importance of one of these trends – automation – in helping enterprises manage their network operations and spend more effectively.
Within the enterprise expense management space, which is traditionally known as Telecom Expense Management (TEM), the push to leverage technology to its greatest extent is very evident. With labor market volatility evidenced by the influence of COVID and its social and economic impacts, enterprise expense management firms are actively seeking ways to thrive and not simply survive. Automation is one of the best tools that management teams will be looking to in order to deal effectively with current labor challenges.
Enterprise expense management teams will want to examine how they can evolve their technologies, professional work environments (virtual and in-office), and current best practices to catch as much technological updraft as possible to drive their business forward in 2022.
IT Automation – Enterprise Focus
This may seem obvious to mention but this is a big initiative for all enterprises, especially mid-size enterprises (100 to 1,000 employees; $50m to $1b) and large enterprises.
Increasing automation within business has always been a top priority. The term “workflow automation” became popular in the 1920s and enjoyed a resurgence in the 1990s. And in the 2000s, the term Robotic Process Automation (RPA) made its way into the business world lexicon. Automation has always been popular within business because of its ability to save time and money, two key elements within business that are inextricable from one another.
As of January 2022, the lever of automation has become more critical than ever for enterprise leaders as they struggle to keep their businesses topside in the very rough waters of our current COVID environment. There is an endless array of unanticipated second and third order consequences deriving from our recent pandemic.
Effective management teams know that scaling effectively is not possible without proper use of automation. And with the endless plethora of challenges posed by our current environment, they also know that they will need all their energies and creativity for all the problems not amenable to automation. So, all things that can be automated will be unless there is a good reason it should be otherwise.
Examples include greater use of bots and artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistants to increase efficiencies, streamline costs, and drive overall scalability. And technology platforms are being designed with more machine learning capabilities to improve performance and further assist over-worked staff.
Let’s review some of the ways that automation is employed within the enterprise expense management arena.
TEM: IT Automation for Enterprises – 3 Key Areas
Within the TEM world, let’s consider three key areas that enterprises need to manage daily. They include tasks around Invoice Management, Inventory Management, and Mobility Management.
These important areas especially benefit from automation because the multitude of tasks that fall under each area comprise repetitive activities that involve high-volume engagement. To the extent that technology permits automation, the organization benefits exponentially from time saved and reduced labor costs. Moreover, human capital can now be deployed more intelligently to address business problems that genuinely require human ingenuity and creativity.
In short, let the machines do best what they do best and let humans do what they do best. Machines are well suited to repetitive activities that demand precise and consistent execution in an almost flawless manner.
Conversely, human talent is more suited to leveraging ingenuity and creativity to create a front-end solution that leverages all the strengths of technology to permit automation for certain activities in the first place.
Your human talent should be dedicated to higher-value activities. Here are three TEM areas that involve significant IT automation to free up your team to address higher-order business challenges.
1. Invoice Management: Five TEM functions that come immediately to mind here:
I. Invoice receipt functions (e.g., RPA, OCR, EDI activities)
II. The tracking and retrieving of missing invoices to reduce labor costs and eliminate late- payment charges
III. Invoice variance auditing for first-level invoice auditing
IV. Cost allocation activities so important to finance team members
V. Payment processing is a basic activity but so important to eliminate late-payment fees
It is almost inconceivable that a modern-day enterprise expense management organization would not employ IT automation against these core repetitive TEM processes. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) automation are essential to effectively scaling TEM business activities, especially with respect to invoice receipt tasks.
2. Inventory Management: Inventory feeds from carriers, MDM platform management functions, and validation of carrier invoices all require use of automation to streamline key inventory management activities. Without significant use of automation, these tasks would simply take too long, cost too much, and the quality of the work would be inconsistent and unreliable. For an area as important as inventory management, automation capabilities are a godsend.
3. Mobility Management: Mobility Management services are more desired than ever these days for enterprise expense management teams. It’s no secret that mobile device use has exploded over the past decade. Here are seven examples that come to mind when thinking about how IT automation is leveraged in mobility management operations.
i. Zero-usage workflows help to automate the identification of waste
ii. High-user notification and action alerts help to maintain control and reduce waste
iii. International usage analyses help to monitor oversees usage, a potentially costly area
iv. Ordering and approval workflows provide guardrails for your team
v. Mobile device assignment / reassignment processes for mobility onboarding or offboarding
vi. Mobile device alert notifications for effective mobile management and control
vii. Mobile technology platform system automation and integration with HR for effective mobility management
Staying at the Forefront of Technology Adoption
Information technology is one of the key levers that enterprise expense management teams utilize to help perform key TEM business processes. Technology and its ability to facilitate automation for repetitive tasks not well-suited to human labor help enterprise expense management teams effectively scale their TEM solutions.
The most competent and successful expense management teams will stay at the forefront of technology adoption into 2022 and beyond. Most importantly, they will do this specifically with an eye towards parsing enterprise expense management tasks most prudently, which is to say, give all the work which can be automated to business processes and machines, which excel in performing these tasks. Doing so will free up your human talent to address higher-order business problems and position the enterprise well for the next set of business challenges awaiting on the horizon.
Schedule a brief demo of our solution to find out how we can help you with business process automation in 2022 and beyond.
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