What comes next for order-to-cash in 2021? - The EE

What comes next for order-to-cash in 2021?

Caroline Schneider of Capgemini

As the pandemic has forced organisations to revaluate their processes and innovate, no stone has been left unturned. In the case of order-to-cash (O2C) digitalisation is pivotal.

The most fantastic customer service offerings, products and marketing strategies will only get your organisation so far if customer invoices are not received and processed in a timely manner.

Over 70% of the time, customers pay late due to issues relating to their invoices. To reduce this problem, says Caroline Schneider,order to cash global process owner, Capgemini’s business servicesfinance and IT teams can utilise technology to revolutionise the O2C process, ensuring it is just as seamless and forward-thinking as other business functions.

AI and the rise of frictionless finance

Legacy technologies, internal silos and traditional ways of working can be barriers to a frictionless experience, blocking the much-needed flexibility that modern O2C requires. However, new platforms are emerging that offer a competitive advantage. They deliver data orchestration, data automation, automated insights and predictive analytics, and simple self-service functionality for customers.

Underpinning these platforms is artificial intelligence coupled with machine learning to power decision-making. These tools can improve business outcomes, including 30–40% day sales outstanding improvements, up to 50% increases in efficiency, and over 90% of payments processed without manual intervention.

The best-in-breed platforms have augmented the O2C process so that it’s similar to a consumer e-commerce experience. This is combined with dynamic use of AI for behavioural analytics and data insights to deliver real-time intelligence to finance teams. The result is a simplified finance process that needs little manual intervention, freeing up employees’ time to focus on more high-value tasks, and making payment much easier for end-customers.

Integrated operations for end-to-end experiences

Forward-thinking organisations are looking at their customer or persona journey end-to-end, taking into account the whole process from the planning and purchasing of goods, delivery and billing, the customer service and order management process, and finally to how the customer will pay for those products or services.

The aim of doing so is to create a tailored, efficient and consistent experience for the customer. Underpinning this is a focus on collaboration. More and more companies are understanding that it is a setback to have the finance function in a silo. They are therefore overhauling internal operating models, breaking down barriers between supply chain, customer service and finance teams to create a customer-focused team structure.

Orchestrating data for teams outside of IT

On the whole, technology for finance today tends to be process-oriented and internally focused, which leads to teams that focus on exceptions and stay within the confines of their own functional areas. With a limited view of operations in other departments, and limited insights highlighting process friction and end-to-end impact, finance teams tend to react later rather than act now, which leads to issues such as missed cash forecasts and frustrated customers.

To make finance a business enabler, more and more companies are leveraging integration platforms as a service (IPaaS) for O2C transformation

Improving the quality and availability of data within the O2C process eliminates friction for both the employee and the customer. It does this through applying business rules to data to provide another lever to automate processes, making critical data available in key processes that would normally require multiple systems and automation. Once the right data is available, AI-enabled platforms can unleash a new level of outcomes for the organisation.

Our experiences show these frictionless enterprises, enabled by well-integrated finance models, deliver improvements in time to market, forecast accuracy, and sales growth.

As the pandemic continues to force businesses to re-think their operations, it’s important to remember the finance function. AI and data orchestration have great potential to make O2C simplified and more efficient.

Implementing these technologies successfully not only helps the finance team and enterprise customers but can have a wide reaching positive impact on broader business outcomes.

The author is Caroline Schneider, order to cash global process owner, Capgemini’s business services.

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