44% of respondents to an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey indicated that cloud computing will be the most important technology for treasurers over the next five years, followed by big data analytics (42%) and artificial intelligence (37%). Interestingly, despite the attention it attracts robotic process automation (RPA) was cited by only 9% of respondents: treasurers say it facilitates automation more than data analysis.
The EIU’s report, “A Quantum Leap: Building a data-driven treasury”, supported by Deutsche Bank, is based on a survey of 300 senior corporate treasury executives from around the world, identifying what being a data-driven treasury means and key considerations when developing a data strategy.
“Treasury Management Systems deployed in the cloud offer a host of benefits, including a wider and more dynamic view of financial positions, automatic access to the latest analytical tools and an ability to more easily collaborate with stakeholders, reducing the need for data collection and input by treasury,” says Ole Matthiessen, global head of Cash Management, Deutsche Bank. “It has taken some time for risk-averse treasurers to accept the security and robustness of cloud-based solutions, but we are now witnessing a change in mindset.”
“With cloud-based solutions, you are now spending less time trying to consolidate the data and more time analysing it and questioning the assumptions,” added Takachida Kuhudzai, EMEA treasury manager at Kimberly Clarke, within the report.
Big data analytics are highlighted as the second most important technology for treasurers. When applied to high volume transactions, such as payments data, these analytics can deliver insights not just for treasury but for other parts of the business too.
“From payments data, I am able to see locations that receive the most customers and the times at which they are buying in our stores. We can ensure we have the right salespeople in our stores at the right time,” said Wolfgang Ratheiser, vice president finance and treasury at Porsche.
Treasurers say the primary benefits to becoming more data-driven are higher operational efficiency (39%) and improved return on investments/assets (36%). Data intelligence can also help treasurers to navigate increasingly complex regulation, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards 9 (IFRS9) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, four in 10 treasurers express significant concerns about the quality of data they are working with.
“Simply ‘owning’ data is not enough; digital transformation is required in order to extract, aggregate, and analyse good quality data,” concluded Matthiessen. “The journey towards an efficient data-driven treasury takes time and our survey can help treasurers to identify how far along they are and what steps they need to take next.”
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