The advent of technological innovation such as big data and cloud computing have coalesced and chief financial officer’s or CFOs and their teams are finding that these new technological innovations can easily be integrated into the way they do business. For example, innovations like accounts payable automation are making taking payments easier and improving customer service. Considering recent growth in the use of AP automation tools, the following is a brief forecast of how this technology will evolve and how it will change the companies and industries that utilize its functionality.

More businesses are putting accounts payable automation to use in the form cloud-based software tools, as well as integrating these Software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools with their current Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. A good AP automation solution will have the ability to integrate with all major ERP systems, including Oracle PeopleSoft, Sage Intacct, Infor, Lawson Software Microsoft Dynamics GreatPlains and others. With the anytime, anywhere access that this cloud-based AP automation software provides, along with ERP integration, AP professionals now have the ability to use a broad set of data to develop insights, identify trends, maximize performance, and reduce the amount of mistakes they make.

Under this new data-driven business model companies are able to set goals that are accessible while also utilizing real-time information consistently. This also allows them to work with more transparency, because businesses will be more accurate with data when making decisions, performing overall processes, and building customer relationships.

This additional transparency that the data provides has led many CFOs to an entirely new possibility of improved financial decision-making, as well as opening up new responsibilities for decision-making in the Accounts Payable department. By making the information surrounding accounts payable available to other departments it can be used to accelerate the payment process, reduce the instances of bottlenecks in processes, maximize vendor relations, and raise early pay discounting opportunities. By shifting to a data-driven model they can reduce the guesswork and create a more cohesive and informed operational strategy constructed on the concept of real-time data.

Technology trends over the past few years have moved business steadily towards making the cloud the standard for data management businesses of all sizes. The cloud is essential for every IT department and AP automation allows Accounts Payable and finance team take full advantage of the cloud. The high percentage of businesses using the cloud have stated that the boundaries between departments are beginning to blur for the better thanks to cloud platforms creating a more into an interconnected system. The result is massive efficiency improvements that businesses can use to maximize profit and productivity, in AP operations in particular.

Thanks to the low overhead and minimal upfront cost and accessibility of cloud computing, managing AP data on almost any device from almost any location makes automation simple. Consequently, cloud technology has become more attractive to businesses of all sizes and types particularly when it comes to streamlining their AP workflow. Evidence of this increase is found in the rise in investment of income into cloud computing infrastructure as it is expected to rise 30% by 2018. The result is a whole new round of cloud-based, automated accounts payable products that can integrate themselves easily into a company’s ERP system.