Fusion Exchange 2017: Doing more with less through automation

There’s something remarkable about seeing 400 people all in one room with one common goal: to help their business meet the ever-evolving needs of today’s business landscape. And I saw that at Concur’s Fusion Exchange.

In my past 12 years at Concur, it’s been amazing to watch our business grow from just one sales representative in Canada (yours truly), to a full team of people who service and support our clients and prospects. Concur Canada has become an industry leader within the region, mirroring our penetration around the world. At Concur’s Fusion Exchange event in Toronto last week this all came full circle for me. I remember my first Fusion Exchange – it was barely 100 people in a room where maybe 10 were clients and the rest were coming to learn more about Concur. Fast forward to September 19, 2017 and the people in the room have quadrupled and the majority of folks are now customers.

Over the years, we’ve built our Fusion Exchange event to be a true opportunity for both our client and prospects – as well as our internal team. We share insights, information and best practices in the travel, expense and invoice (TE&I) space, help provide businesses big and small with guidance on how to improve day to day operations and in turn we at Concur get to learn from our friends and partners. It’s a tremendous experience for the team and me.

This year, one of our focuses at Fusion Exchange was to look at how we shape continued evolution in the finance department of Canada’s businesses – specifically with accounts payable (AP) automation. Why? Because everyone is expected to do more with less, be more strategic and provide more and more value to their companies and none of this can be done without leveraging the possibilities that cloud-based, automation tools afford.

During his afternoon keynote, Concur Canada’s managing director, Kevin Craig, shared brand new data on the state of AP automation in Canada – The research is based on the 2017 State of AP Automation in Canada study conducted by Northstar Research Partners of 500 businesses of varying sizes with respondents who influence the strategy of the finance function in their organization. Kevin shared insights into adoption, awareness, pain points, motivations and barriers – all pertaining to implementing AP automation – and I was lucky to be one of two panelists to join him on stage to discuss the research with him and what it means to Canadian businesses.

The results show an optimistic outlook, yet with work still to be done. Only 12% of Canadian businesses are entirely automated, yet nearly half (46%) are currently in the process of automating their AP processes and another one-third are planning to automate AP within the next two years. A startling 14 per cent - about 160,000 Canadian businesses – have no idea what AP automation is and that needs to change. 

The benefits experienced by companies that have adopted AP automation cannot be ignored. Of the companies surveyed, those with automation cited improved accuracy, reduced operating costs and reduced time spent on administrative tasks as the top benefits. Automation also greatly reduced the total time it took to process an invoice and the total time spent each week on related tasks.

And while many finance decision makers cite concerns with implementing automation, the survey has shown these to be unfounded. In fact, less than one-third of companies with full AP automation had any challenges with implementation, far fewer than the number of companies that expect to run into challenges.

The moral of the story? You can’t afford to wait and it won’t be as scary as you think. If you have the opportunity to enact change in your business, if have the opportunity to be a changemaker and you want to increase efficiency within your finance department, I highly recommend you do so.

The power is in your hands, and automation makes it easier than ever.

Learn more about how to create your own AP Policy.  Download the template here.

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