In the same way that self-driving cars will eventually free up valuable time, ‘autopilots’ in finance and accounting will increasingly become the norm. Intuit and Xero are examples of companies already moving in this direction; the journey has just begun.
Platformization and big data shifts mean that B2B trade can be mapped digitally, and AI-based trade navigation assistants can be built and trained based on companies' accounting and banking data. By activating a “self-driving mode”, these assistants can take over after commercial negotiations: issuing purchase orders and invoices, collecting payments, handling disputes and claims - all in a timely, reliable and optimized manner. Building on accounting and banking data, companies will also start using "finance assistants" for cash-flow forecasting and credit management.
Mapping B2B trade and building trade navigation assistants and finance autopilots will ultimately make B2B commerce more efficient in two ways. At the transaction level, they will help companies optimize business relationships, minimizing payment delays and incidents. At the broader company level, they will actively manage sophisticated solutions like receivables finance and credit insurance, in alignment with company cash flows and business plans. While SME awareness of these solutions is currently limited, ‘robo-advisors’ have demonstrated effectiveness in B2C banking.