Cloud Elements helping companies go digital by intelligent integration
Sometimes it takes an unstoppable force to drive significant change. That’s unfortunately the case at the moment, with the current virus forcing just about every company in the world to “go digital,” and quickly. But digital is in line with most customers’ preferences in most market segments and, enforced or not, moving processes so that they’re more streamlined and integrated digitally is increasingly important for businesses.
In corporate financial markets, there have been historically very different speeds of change in the various sectors and business functions: commercial banking, for instance, has been something of an innovator, with disruptive online-only challenger banks offering bespoke insurance, consumer banking services, payments, and blockchain-backed funds transfers & escrow.
More in line with the conservative reputation that financial businesses seem loathe to shake off, corporate banking has been slower to acclimatize to the technological landscape. But perhaps now is the time to change all that?
Winning with integration
Technology need not be ground-breaking nor untested to be impactful. While the technology press might be examining quantum computing or artificial intelligence and finding startup disruptors to profile, the truth is that the correct and judicious application of a little of the right technology can have a great deal of positive impact.
That’s especially true where there’s manual processing, data entry, and repetitive human labor involved. In many businesses, procure-to-pay, and accounts payable are still dominated by manual handling, despite the presence of powerful ERPs, financial planning applications, business intelligence software, and so on.
With help from leading partners in the financial technology space like Cloud Elements, many companies are successfully leveraging relatively simple yet incredibly powerful technologies in APIs (application programming interfaces) and automation. Thousands of specialist applications are automating manual processes and offering new insights, faster. Each offers APIs but increasingly, they need to deliberately ‘speak’ with each other to fulfill their promise and deliver the end-to-end experience stakeholders, partners, and customers want.
Of course, APIs are not a new technology, and in many verticals, the interfacing of systems to enable automatic data sharing is well-established. What’s different about the Cloud Elements approach is that, as a technology specialist in the financial sector, its approach is fully-conversant with the particular requirements of FP & A: issues like data security, local and international data governance, and pre-built resources for highly-customized enterprise systems, for instance.
Furthermore, rather than representing a “module” or add-on to a larger ERP, Cloud Elements’ integration methodology is designed with the financial functions of business first and last.
Integrations across the enterprise present significant cost-savings and advantages in terms of processes’ speed, business intelligence gathering, and much more (these aspects are explored in more detail below). But because financial departments and finance houses can present APIs to external parties and partners safely and effectively too, the speed and agility of the overall business are transformed.
With pre-built connectors and a data model at the center of your application ecosystem that’s designed to remove the need for multiple point-to-point API mappings, businesses can very quickly interconnect information from outside the business, and from all areas inside the broader enterprise.
Of course, in today’s technology landscape, many of those elements that communicate are cloud-based, some are proprietary, some often created as bespoke, and others are spread across a range of applications and services both bare-metal and data center. Cloud Elements’ ‘Elements‘ offers connectivity with highly advanced features baked in, from service discovery, cross-platform searching, data aggregation, and rule- or event-driven workflows.
And, if your bespoke application or legacy service is integral to the business function, its API integration can be designed by Cloud Elements, or by your own team (with help, if required), or planned as part of a longer-term digital transformation roadmap.
Building the formulae, making them usable
Once we accept that integrations need to be built to create insights businesses need, how do we create them, at scale, so they can drive business value, across the finance function and the wider enterprise?
Instead of needing the IT department to add each API interface manually (and slowly), Cloud Elements offers two alternatives to orchestrate complex integrations and workflows:
– Formula Builder is designed to support trained developers in IT and elsewhere, and allow them to create reusable, API-accessible Formulas. The Cloud Elements solution offers Formula-as-a-resource for a broad range of use-cases, especially in, but not limited to the finance function.
– Conductor is designed for ad hoc and citizen integrators who want to quickly configure integrations in a GUI. That allows all business specialists to get to the insights they need, faster than ever before.
Automate; don’t copy & paste
With over 200 Elements and thousands of pre-built API actions explicitly developed with financial institutions and finance departments in mind, Cloud Elements provides the finance tools that can be deployed quickly and with immediate impact. Using industry-recognized underlying technology that emphasizes security before risk, and adheres to transparent (and therefore verifiable) methodologies, integrations and workflows unify and automate where previously, manual tasks had to be undertaken by staff.
For the enterprise, that represents saving and efficiency on several levels. Repetitive tasks, such as data cleaning, copy-and-pasting, juggling multiple apps, and trying to collaborate on static Excel sheets usually results in mistakes being made, as well as painfully slow and costly business processes. But once these routines are automated, staff can be redeployed to more strategic roles, or just involved in edge-cases — areas that require human judgment and professional experience.
But as well as faster procurement-to-pay, for example, the Cloud Elements automation and Formula mean that digitized processes can be the source of empirical business intelligence: real data, in real-time for significant insights.
With data synchronization between applications, data-sharing, and real payment and invoice data available right across the entire software stack, companies are managing their financial functions better, and with a higher value to the enterprise as a whole.
From automatically processing payments, and matching POs to procurement requests, to integration with business intelligence software, big data processing and advanced visualization, this is next-generation finance, done digitally, by finance professionals. Joining and integrating across the financial hub is crucial, and automating & streamlining from finance to other areas across the enterprise is becoming more necessary. Cloud Elements’ platform helps you deliver the interconnected, automated systems that will differentiate your business.
For this next-gen in fully-integrated accounts, and more, get in touch with the Cloud Elements team, and request your own 15-day free trial.