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When it comes to finance, 2023 is all about embracing tech to improve efficiency. Particularly given the unstable economy that’s showing no signs of letting up. Whether you’re harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to build a customer-friendly chatbot for your website or hiring a talented team of engineers to focus on cybersecurity, we’re sharing the hottest tech trends to tap into. Keep reading to find out which technologies your finance team should be championing to make the most of your company’s money.

1. AI is upping the ante

While artificial intelligence hasn’t completely transformed the financial sector yet, it’s definitely changing the way people interact with money. The power of AI is giving finance and banking companies fresh ways to help customers access, spend and invest their cash. 

But it’s not just having an impact from a customer-facing perspective. Some finance leaders are harnessing AI to crunch data and forecast trends, from supply chain costs to consumer buying habits, helping them better prepare for the future. In fact, the market value of AI in finance is expected to grow 16.5% by 2030.

As AI hasn’t been fully adopted yet, the solutions that actually provide value are still quite narrow. This is because for an AI product to function the way you want it to, it needs to see millions of examples of what it’s trying to predict. Overall, there are four key areas CFOs should consider using AI for in the coming months and years:

  • Personalising services and products
  • Managing risk and fraud
  • Enabling transparency and compliance
  • Automating operations and reducing costs

There are endless examples of areas where AI can improve the outcome for finance teams and their customers. For example, anomaly detection. Using AI can help banks detect anomalies, like fraudulent transactions, financial crime and cyber threats, to keep their platform clean. 

Similarly, these banks can use AI to provide personalised recommendations for financial products and services (like investment advice or limited-time offers) based on customer journeys and financial goals.

According to Microsoft, AI is the perfect partner to help finance teams work smarter, not harder, with 82% of finance leaders agreeing that AI is key to helping their team support their organisation’s goals. Which leads us nicely onto tech trend #2…

2. People and tech go hand in hand

Harnessing technology to improve financial performance is more important than ever. But, crucially, this shouldn’t be at the expense of your people. It’s not a case of replacing one with the other. No matter how much money companies throw at transformative technology, they still need people to manage and analyse the data – this will continue to be a focus for finance teams in 2023.

In fact, one of the benefits of finding the right tech for your company is that it frees up time for your employees to focus on more valuable work. At Pleo, we’re all about automating financial admin to free up your CFO to become a strategic partner. This way, they can offer leadership the necessary insights to decide in which direction to steer the business. The right software should empower your people, not overshadow them.

A priority for many finance leaders will be hiring (and maintaining) a team that’s able to adapt to new technologies and collaborate to get the most out of them. Thanks to a talent shortage and digital skills gap, both established finance companies and fintechs are struggling to place the right people into their teams. 

Here are some tips on how to attract the best finance talent if you’re on the hunt for new employees.

3. Make way for real-time reporting and forecasting

Reporting gives finance teams the data they need to make informed decisions for the business. This data helps them spot trends and take corrective action, get a clearer picture of the firm’s financial performance and communicate effectively with stakeholders. Plus, real-time data can help teams understand their website’s performance, so if something’s not working, they can alert IT and arrange a fix as soon as possible, preventing any loss of revenue. 

Real-time data is such a strategic priority that without it, many finance leaders will struggle to provide the right numbers at the right time. In fact, 80% of businesses have seen revenue increases thanks to real-time data. One way to ensure it is to invest in a live feed. 

Live feeds offer loads of information, like point-of-sale data, credit card transactions and bank records. Real-time data is particularly crucial when it comes to reducing money laundering and financial crime, as it helps teams to identify fraudulent activity on the spot. You’ll find instant data at your fingertips on Pleo’s analytics dashboard – from spend by category or team to top merchants and team members with the highest number of missing receipts.

The same goes for forecasting. Finance teams are no longer forecasting once a month or on a quarterly basis, partly because investors want more regular business performance updates. It’s happening all the time, every day. We’re seeing more and more finance leaders use predictive analytics in real-time to help them identify slow payers, resolve system issues and improve receivable management.

4. Cybersecurity has never been more important

Did you know that 31% of businesses are attacked online at least once a week? And while the attempts aren’t always successful, the damage can be extensive – not to mention expensive –  when they are. So it’s not worth playing Russian roulette with your reputation and your cash flow. The good news is that finance teams are well placed to act as gatekeepers of company and employee data in order to protect their business.

Ultimately, your finance team is a prime target for cyber attacks. That’s because they hold the keys to the data (and money) that hackers want to get their hands on. They’re familiar with all the company assets and where they’re stored. And they’re responsible for making sure transactions and systems are as secure as possible. Working in tandem with IT, finance can help to ensure regulatory compliance by following these steps:

  • Secure your assets 

Finance can make sure the company’s risk register is regularly reviewed by the C-Suite and bring to the table insights on managing third-party or supply chain risk.

  • Understand the consequences 

Reputational damage can shake even the largest and most successful of businesses. Not to mention potential economic damage. Finance can educate the leadership team about how regulations, like GDPR, can help them address the severity of data breaches.

  • Employ dedicated engineers

 As a finance team, it’s just as much your responsibility as the IT team’s to make sure you have the right engineers on the job. Check that you have enough highly skilled engineers focusing on the cybersecurity-related risks of any changes they make to the tech they’re using.

  • See cybersecurity prevention as an investment 

Many finance teams see spending on cybersecurity prevention as a cost, but they should instead be communicating with the rest of the business how effective this investment has been and offering advice on how to use it properly.

5. All aboard the automation train

Automation is nothing new, but it is a trick that not all companies have caught onto yet. The reality is that it’s an invaluable way to drive greater time and cost-efficiency. Digitising common workflows  – like accounts payable and tax compliance – means less time spent on boring and repetitive tasks like data entry and bookkeeping. It also ensures consistency, as you no longer have multiple people carrying out the same admin in a slightly different way. 

One of the biggest time wasters for many finance teams is dealing with employee expenses. That’s why many businesses have a spending solution like Pleo. This allows them to wave goodbye to manual spreadsheets thanks to automated expense reports and real-time capture of employee expenses with company cards, invoices and receipt collection. Not to mention, month-end accounting is made miles easier when you factor in Pleo’s seamless integrations with Quickbooks, Xero and the like. 

So much so that your finance team could save 138+ hours on admin every year.

Of course, it’s not just finance that can be automated. There are clever apps and hacks to digitise all kinds of business processes, from sales and marketing to HR. We’re not the only app in the business of helping you save time by automating dull, time-consuming processes. 

Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favourite accounting automation tools to get you started.

Any CFOs wanting to stay ahead of the game and keep their companies profitable and secure should be aware of these key tech trends. Invest time (and money, if necessary) in finding the right technology to keep your business thriving, and give your team the tools to use these platforms to their advantage. That’s the secret to a successful 2023.

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