Earlier this week, The Fintech Times attended both the Digital Transformation in The Times of Covid-19, and the Changing the Game – How AI Dramatically Improves O2C Performance webinars that were held as part of Sidetrade’s Digital O2C Summit 2021.
Both events enjoyed considerable attendance, with over 70,000 people joining the session from the far reaches of the world.
Sidetrade combines next-generation AI and machine learning, with a considerable collection of carefully cultivated B2B customer behaviour data, in order to intelligently automate companies’ Order-2-Cash processes.
Their advanced AI-powered Order-2-Cash technology – aptly nicknamed “Aimie” – empowers finance teams to improve both customer retention and upsell/cross-sell opportunities, and allows them to collect cash quicker whilst optimising working capital.
Digital Transformation in The Times of Covid-19
This webinar went live on Monday 15th March 2021, was hosted by Rob Harvey, Chief Product Officer at Sidetrade. The webinar began on a retrospective foot, and examined just how the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic had influenced business’s O2C processes. Mr Harvey identified how a staggering 83% of businesses had sought to change their O2C processes since the start of Covid-19. Likening this revelation to a journey, Mr Harvey stated “Hopefully [this increase] will go some way in improving the payment delays of the future, and making sure we have a good footing as we come out of the pandemic.”
Developing on this point, Harvey went on to examine just how the O2C process must respond to the influence of such a devastating crisis, stating “It’s key to have a clear strategy to how you’re going to manage O2C, and to look at it as a transactional process in an overarching view which really brings all of the business units in line with the CFO principles.” Adding to this, the session also vigorously dissected the entire O2C process, investigating such areas as Quote to Order, Order to Invoice, Invoice to Cash, and how a company could implement such strategies in a holistic and beneficial manner on both a personal and professional scale.
At this stage in the webinar, participants were encouraged to think about what benefits could be garnered from harbouring such a streamlined process; an area that was thoroughly examined by Harvey. “If you are to secure across that process, you can expect to benefit from up to 3% increase in sales revenue” Harvey continued. “Surprisingly, when you address the end of the Invoice to Cash process, you can actually improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.” Other mentioned benefits include up to 30% savings in the cost of operating, and similarly mirrored benefits in the reduction of DSO; and somewhat most importantly, an increase in employee satisfaction too.
This webinar was keen to showcase the tangible results that Sidetrade’s Aimie technology is capable of achieving and how the use of such technology can foster a 31% increase in collection efficiency through collaboration with intelligent dunning suggestions, augmented E-invoicing, and enviable amounts of data.
Changing The Game – How AI Dramatically Improves O2C Performance
This next webinar was presented by Mark Sheldon, CTO of Sidetrade, on Tuesday 16th March. Following a brief yet detailed examination into what exactly AI is and how machine learning fits into the O2C process, Sheldon covered the benefits of such an application, including the likes of an improved working cap position, increased automation and buyer familiarity, workload optimisation and the ability to drive revenue upstream.
It remains clear that the use of such technology can greatly benefit the efficiency of the collection process, with Sheldon quoting a 55% success rate in the presence of streamlined workflows with AI at the helm. Sheldon emphasised the importance of the fact that Aimie is continuously learning, and in doing so, whilst repeatedly encountering a plethora of data exposure, future sights are only becoming higher. To accentuate such a statement, Sheldon noted the 482 million payment experiences and 40 million dunning actions that their system currently sits on. On top of these figures, the system has also processed nearly $2.4 trillion worth of transactions; elements that when combined, aided Aimie in increasing its own collection efficiency by 31% last year.
But with the highs so too must come the lows, and the conversation took a cautious turn as Sheldon encouraged his audience to “see through the hype of AI”; ultimately identifying the common elements between systems that fly and systems that die. “There’s a lot that really frustrates me personally” he added, “Having been in this sector for some time now. I think it’s important that business leaders really understand the difference between genuine AI providers [and their false alternatives].” He added how data, or the amount of it, contributed massively towards the success of AI. “There’s no AI without data, making it impossible for companies like start-ups to provide such a service without a considerable history of data.” Another pitfall to avoid includes offers from RPAs (Robotic Process Automation), with Sheldon commenting “these automate the processes we do every day…and that is very different from what we do in AI, where we’re using algorithms to intelligently recommend the best dunning actions”.