Robots, Accounting Automation Move Payments Digital

From autonomous vehicles to automated bill-pay software, next-generation solutions are transforming industrial operations.

This, as working capital management realities and labor shortages are being consistently aggravated by strong macroeconomic headwinds buffeting businesses across industries.

The silent workhorse of the eCommerce industry’s spectacular ascent over the past few years, a majority of transportation, shipping and logistics companies tell PYMNTS they expect their business-to-business (B2B) volumes to continue growing.

As a result of these rising big-ticket volumes, more than 4 in 10 (41%) transportation companies consider accounts receivable (AR) and accounts payable (AP) innovations to be among their most urgent investment priorities. As B2B bill-pay volumes grow, manually writing and mailing physical checks becomes less and less of a viable solution.

Automated AP/AR systems that replace or assist legacy operational functions can help finance and accounting optimize cash flow as well as allow for greater transactional oversight and real-time clarity.

Fewer than 4 in 100 (just 3.9%) of surveyed companies say automated innovations are a low priority for their business.

Automating the Future

Integrated robotic solutions that streamline operations and cut costs are being adopted across the marketplace and deployed in a variety of use cases.

As PYMNTS reported, businesses are increasingly turning to automated solutions to remove bottlenecks from both front- and back-end operations, realizing efficiencies across operational verticals that include finance and accounting offices to the factory floor and even the loading bay.

In a sign of the times, B2B autonomous vehicle (AV) company Oxbotica last week (Jan. 11) announced a $140 million Series C funding round meant to help deploy the company’s industrial-use AV products around the world in the energy and agriculture sectors, private truck yards, airports and mining sites; as well as reported fixed-route passenger shuttle services in 2024.

This latest round brings the total amount of funding raised by Oxbotica to $225 million.

The AV company is also partnering with the automation and robotics innovator Ocado Group on autonomous goods delivery to help fulfill online retail orders.

PYMNTS’ conversations with CFOs in 2022 showed a strong emphasis on automation in all its forms, as there has been a recent boom in opportunities for automated tools to help companies fuel sustainable growth while reducing human error and manual labor redundancy.

Automating the B2B Transaction Journey

Efficiency is the name of the game, and not only does automating operational processes with the help of innovative digital upgrades assist businesses in driving operational certainty and improved profitability, but it can also provide improved transparency and the kind of real-time insights that finance leaders and decision makers crave, especially in lean and uncertain times.

In fact, by integrating next generation digital systems, businesses can smooth out friction points across the entire B2B transaction journey — helping improve both internal operations and boost external relationships.

PYMNTS’ research underscores the recognition among the most successful companies that they must have efficient and effective AP operations to sustain their competitive position.

The greatest improvement CFOs at transportation and logistics companies expect to realize from automating their accounts processes is an improved relationship with vendors. More than 8 in 10 finance leaders (83%) cite this, while an additional majority (78%) look forward to faster payments, and 52% say greater variety of payment options will also make their B2B vendors happier.

As PYMNTS has reported, businesses are holding an estimated $1 trillion in unpaid B2B invoices for their suppliers. Streamlining workflows to enable real-time access to funds is becoming more critical when waiting days for money transfers to clear, or currencies to be exchanged, can effectively hamstring a company’s operations.

Beyond that, many back-end processes have historically been plagued by common and prevalent reconciliation frictions that document digitization and workflow automation are particularly well suited to solve for.

PYMNTS has been closely tracking how an evolving approach to business planning is transforming the responsibilities of finance teams by giving leaders key tools to better leverage cross-department affinities.

As Hazeltree CFO Kevin Held told PYMNTS during a recent conversation, “finance and accounting teams have become much more of a business partner than just the ‘bean counter’ we were before.”

As for who is counting those beans? It is increasingly an automated digital solution.

PYMNTS Data: Why Consumers Are Trying Digital Wallets

A PYMNTS study, “New Payments Options: Why Consumers Are Trying Digital Wallets” finds that 52% of US consumers tried out a new payment method in 2022, with many choosing to give digital wallets a try for the first time.


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