Enabling Efficient Finance and Accounting Operations via AI with SAP’s Latest Updates
Meet the Authors
⇨ SAP's updates introduce AI tools to simplify finance tasks, predictive analytics, and faster decision-making processes.
⇨ Key SAP updates include the SAP Build Code for custom app development, the SAP Business Technology Platform for enhanced agility, and intelligent document processing tools
⇨ Finance leaders should evaluate the latest updates for opportunities to streamline operations, enhance data accuracy, and leverage AI's to transform finance functions
Finance and accounting professionals are increasingly leveraging AI to manage complex financial data. SAP’s new updates utilize AI to bolster efficiency and precision in financial workflows. Insights from the SAPinsider Intelligent Finance in the Cloud report highlight a shift towards SAP S/4HANA and SAP BTP, reflecting a broader adoption of intelligent automation in finance. These innovations from SAP affirm AI’s critical role in refining finance operations and advancing overall business efficacy.
Drivers of AI Adoption in Finance
Financial operations are growing more complex, making the quick, data-driven decision-making that AI enables indispensable. Organizations seek to offload repetitive tasks to AI, allowing skilled workers to concentrate on strategic duties. This trend is apparent in the movement towards innovative solutions like SAP S/4HANA and SAP BTP, streamlining F&A processes with intelligent automation.
Here’s a breakdown of the key announcements:
- SAP Build Code brings a fresh approach to development within SAP systems, explicitly catering to Java and Node.js environments. Adding an AI assistant named Joule promises to foster better collaboration among developers. This tool empowers developers in finance teams to create custom financial applications with incredible speed and collaboration, responding to unique organizational needs with less reliance on extensive coding. For instance, teams can develop bespoke financial reporting tools tailored to their specific requirements, aligning with many SAPinsiders that identified the urgent demand for new applications to bolster finance operations.
- SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) Transformation is SAP’s strategic move to enhance agility in application development. With new AI-enabled features for lifecycle management, SAP BTP is simplifying the journey from concept to deployment, allowing finance teams to adapt to changes in financial regulations and reporting needs quickly. This means that financial compliance measures can be implemented swiftly across various platforms, a necessary advancement in a landscape where agility is critical to staying competitive.
- With the Cloud ERP Journey Enhancements, SAP introduces the “Accelerate for GROW” program, designed to facilitate cloud ERP adoption among midmarket companies. This initiative simplifies the adoption process, offering scalability and cost-effective solutions while encouraging a clean core strategy. For mid-sized businesses, this means a more seamless transition to robust financial systems with minimal operational disruption, addressing the needs of a large segment of the community currently at or behind their competition in cloud-based F&A automation.
- The new Learning, Services, and Support Initiatives reflect SAP’s commitment to continuous education and support. By providing role-based certifications and learning resources, along with enhanced services such as SAP Cloud Application Services, SAP ensures that finance professionals have the knowledge and tools they need to optimize their systems. This is crucial for improving operational efficiency and keeping pace with technological advancements, especially as 34.% of respondents recognize the importance of integrated solutions in their digital transformation efforts.
- SAP Business AI enhances SAP’s AI Services and introduces intelligent scenario lifecycle management for SAP S/4HANA Cloud. These updates are aimed at improving process efficiency and enhancing predictive capabilities within SAP applications. Finance teams can now leverage AI for advanced financial analytics, enabling them to anticipate market trends and strategize proactively. This update comes at a critical time, as 28% of survey participants are under pressure to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of their F&A processes.
- The improvements to Intelligent Document Processing through the Document Information Extraction service directly respond to the community’s call for more efficient processes. By supporting a more comprehensive array of document templates and enabling more flexible customizations, SAP addresses one of the top challenges—process inefficiency, cited by 53% of respondents. The service’s neural network-based model promises faster and more accurate data extraction from financial documents, leading to quicker invoice and purchase order processing with reduced error rates.
- Generative AI Assistant Joule is poised to revolutionize how finance teams interact with data. Joule is designed to deliver insights and facilitate decision-making by analyzing data across SAP’s portfolio and third-party sources. This means finance teams can make faster, data-driven decisions with real-time financial analysis and recommendations at their fingertips. This capability is precious for the 43% of survey respondents eager to enhance their SAP applications to meet specific business needs without causing disruption.
Challenges and Barriers
Despite the promise of AI, finance sectors face hurdles. There’s an inherent resistance to change and a cautious approach to adopting new technologies. Data privacy, security concerns, and integration with existing systems stand tall. Moreover, a growing skills gap looms large, with upskilling becoming a necessity for leveraging AI’s full potential.
Goals for Finance and Accounting Efficiency
AI aims to make finance operations more streamlined, reducing manual work and improving the accuracy of predictions and forecasts. This aligns with the goals of many SAP customers looking to reduce costs and boost efficiency in finance processes. AI is increasingly integrated into finance and accounting, with SAP’s updates reflecting the potential of AI to create a more efficient and forward-thinking finance function. Finance leaders are encouraged to evaluate these AI-driven updates to remain competitive in the current operating environment.
What does this mean for SAPinsiders?
- Embrace AI for enhanced data processing. Implement SAP’s AI-driven tools, such as the Document Information Extraction service, to automate and streamline the processing of financial documents. This will address the inefficiency concern by most SAPinsiders and help reduce manual entry errors, saving time for more strategic tasks.
- Invest in upskilling and continuous learning. Utilize SAP’s learning and certification programs to bridge the skills gap within your finance team. Given that 34% of respondents aim to integrate cloud and on-premise solutions, continuous learning will ensure your team is proficient in using the full suite of SAP’s offerings for digital transformation.
- Leverage predictive analytics and AI for strategic decisions. Take advantage of SAP Business AI and tools like the generative AI Assistant Joule to gain predictive insights and enhance decision-making. With the pressure to lower costs and increase process efficiency being a key driver for nearly a third of survey respondents, these tools can provide the necessary analytics to inform cost-saving and investment strategies.
- Modernize your ERP landscape with cloud solutions. Consider transitioning to cloud-based ERP solutions, such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud, to benefit from its scalability and flexibility. This is especially relevant as many companies are either on par or behind their competition in cloud-based F&A automation, according to SAPinsider survey findings.
- Prioritize agile application development. Utilize SAP Build Code and SAP BTP to develop and deploy custom financial applications rapidly. The growing demand for new apps to support efficient finance operations suggests that the ability to adapt software to changing needs quickly is critical for maintaining a competitive edge.