Robotic process automation is already underway, but its main impact on corporate treasury will become evident over the coming decade. The benefits - and potential downside - were assessed at two of the industry's keynote annual events in October, which were previewed as follows:
It’s nearly 100 years since the word ‘robot’ was first used as a term for artificial automata, by Czech writers Josef and Karel Čapek. During the 1920s, the possibilities of a world in which robots could be deployed to perform manual tasks more cheaply and efficiently than humans grew rapidly; by 1928 a talking humanoid robot, Eric, was delivering a speech at the Model Engineers Society annual exhibition in London.
As we approach the 2020s, the widespread application of robotic process automation (RPA) and other technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is fast becoming a reality. Opinion is divided on the implications for the treasury function over the decade ahead; the optimistic view holds that RPA means that treasurers will be freed from many of the more mundane tasks. The more pessimistic forecast is that the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution will merely make many jobs redundant without simultaneously creating new ones.
Certainly the efficiencies of RPA and also the increasing value of data as a resource for the treasury function will be high on the agenda at two of the industry’s key annual events this month: the EuroFinance International Treasury Management Conference 2019, which will be held at the Bella Center, Copenhagen from 16th to the 18th October, to be swiftly followed by the US Association for Financial Professionals’ (AFP) annual conference, which this year returns to Boston’s Convention and Exhibition Center from 20th to 23rd October.
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