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THE NEXT BIG THING: 94% OF FINANCE PROFESSIONALS ARE LOOKING TO IMPLEMENT INTELLIGENT AUTOMATION… DESPITE 50% NOT FULLY UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT MEANS

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New Visma | Onguard research reveals determination among businesses to adopt the technology

 

Intelligent Automation (IA) is set to become the latest technology buzzword in the financial sector, with 94% of finance professionals stating they are looking to implement the technology. Despite this, 50% of finance professionals do not understand the technology or the benefits it can bring, according to the latest Fintech Barometer study conducted by Visma | Onguard, leaders in providing solutions for the order-to-cash process. The study, which is now in its fourth year, tracks attitudes and challenges impacting the financial sector, surveying more than 1000 finance professionals in the UK annually.

Defined as a combination of artificial intelligence and automation, IA improves efficiency by processing huge amounts of data automatically. Implementation is not just an IT concern, but requires a change in the way businesses work, bringing together humans and technology to accelerate and improve processes that previously could not be automated for better business results.

Marieke Saeij, CEO at Visma | Onguard comments: “It’s a fascinating finding that finance professionals want to implement Intelligent Automation in their organisation, despite the majority admitting they’re unaware of what it is all about. IA is the automation of business processes that are not repetitive or predictable, where some degree of intelligence, either pre-programmed or artificial, is used to achieve the best outcome. At Visma | Onguard, we can only applaud the ambition of finance professionals to implement emerging technologies such as these. However, these findings reveal that we have a clear role to help every finance professional understand what IA is and how it can add value to their organisation. After all, this growing trend makes the work of every finance professional a lot easier, leaving more room for them to add value to the organisation.”

 

The roadmap to implementation

For those businesses planning to implement this technology, the planned timeframe for adoption varies with 37% of professionals indicating that they are working on a 1-2 year strategy for adoption, and only 3% thinking they will implement it within a year. This hesitancy to implement is reflected by the overwhelm being felt due to the volume and variety of data now available to finance professionals, with 41% finding effectively combining outputs from the many different data sources (both external and internal) the biggest challenge when it comes to becoming data-driven.

As part of IA, the survey found that uptake of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and robotisation also remains modest, with only 21% of finance professionals currently using the technology in their systems. Its potential however is promising, and adoption could be on the rise with 40% saying they are developing ideas on how to integrate RPA or robotisation, with a further 21% in the exploratory phase.

 

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NutreeLife triples production with finance from Siemens Financial Services

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Plant-based snack manufacturer NutreeLife has massively increased its production capacity with the help of a hire purchase solution from Siemens Financial Services (SFS).

Founded in 2017, NutreeLife is a rapidly growing company which produces vegan protein bars, snacks and other healthy vegan products. Following a significant increase in demand, the manufacturer wanted to invest in a new production line.

As Patrick Mroczak, MD and CEO at NutreeLife Ltd explains, “We were ready to invest in the next stage of business development. We needed new equipment to meet demand but we also wanted to preserve our cash flow to deal with the volatility of the pandemic.”

To protect the business’ working capital, SFS suggested a hire purchase arrangement. Under the agreement, NutreeLife could acquire the equipment immediately and with no upfront costs. Instead, SFS tailored the arrangement so that the company could spread the cost over 5 years in regular payments and at the end of the arrangement NutreeLife will automatically own the equipment outright.

Under the hire purchase solution, the manufacturer also met the conditions for the UK government’s super-deduction tax initiative, whereby a company investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets is able to claim 130% of the equipment’s value in year one.

“As a relatively new business, it’s not always easy to gain access to the right finance at a good price but SFS were incredibly accommodating. They really understood the benefit of the technology for our business and helped us unlock the investment,” adds Mroczak.

With the new equipment and technology installed, NutreeLife has been able to triple its production and turnover, and expand operations in tow.

“Despite the ups and downs of the pandemic, the new production line has helped us to keep things moving. As demand rises we’ve been able to take on much more staff and use our working capital towards stockpiling raw materials when needed.”

And the business’ success has not gone unnoticed. NutreeLife was awarded Small Business of the Year at the 2021 Lancashire’s Be Inspired Business Awards (BIBAs).

“Working with SFS has truly opened up news avenues of business for us. The team is so fast and responsive and clearly dedicated to finding the best solution for our machinery needs,” comments Mroczak.

Kirsty Talmage-Rostron, Business Development Manager – UK South at Siemens Financial Services comments, “It’s always exciting to work with an innovative award-winning manufacturer like NutreeLife. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we’ve been able to help the business rapidly develop and look forward to continuing to support this growth strategy as the business expands into new markets.”

 

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HYDR DEVELOPS INVOICE FINANCE PLATFORM TO INTEGRATE WITH MAJOR CLOUD ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE PROVIDERS

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MANCHESTER – UK – 17th January 2022 – Fintech start-up, Hydr has developed its proprietary invoice finance platform to integrate with more major cloud accounting software providers including Sage and QuickBooks.

After launching exclusively with Xero in May, the Hydr platform can now be accessed by millions more SMEs in the UK who want to leverage their unpaid invoices to optimise cash flow and help fuel their growth.

Users of Sage, FreeAgent, KashFlow, QuickBooks and Xero who sign up with Hydr can get paid almost immediately for the work they have completed and invoiced, rather than having to wait out long payment terms and even having to consider extending their borrowings to maintain working capital.

Customers who link their account to the Hydr platform can expect a class-leading, seamless integration. No duplication of data is needed, they simply continue to raise their invoices with their cloud accounting provider as normal and Hydr will do the rest, funding approved invoices within 24 hours.

Hydr co-founder, Nicola Weedall said, “We’re so pleased to have achieved this product milestone. The impact of long payment terms and late payments is affecting millions of small businesses in the UK; many are navigating CBILS repayments and ramping up post-Covid trading which can put a strain on working capital. We feel so strongly that getting paid early is the best way of optimising cash flow, far better than extending borrowings.”

Hydr co-founder, Hector Macandrew said, “Invoice finance in years gone by has often been complicated and time consuming to apply for, complex to manage and opaque in pricing. It is absolutely ripe for disruption and cloud accounting and open banking has made this reinvention achievable. With our simple, transparent and fairly priced proposition, it is now more accessible and attractive to small businesses than ever. We encourage more businesses to consider it.”

Hydr helps small businesses optimise their cash flow with fully digital onboarding that takes just 15 minutes. Hydr’s platform connects with a company’s data and financial information creating a seamless digital experience without the need for the company to submit any additional paperwork. Funding decisions are given in real time and Hydr pays 100% of the value of an invoice (rather than the traditional 70-90%) within 24 hours, minus a transparent, fairly priced fixed fee. Once quoted, the fee never, ever changes and includes credit insurance.

Hydr works with small businesses registered in England in Wales that sell products or services to other businesses (B2B).

 

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