Investing in automation requires a cultural shift, says Reval

Blaik Wilson, solutions consultant at Reval, says Asian companies are well positioned to implement new technologies, but the cultural change that is required can sometimes be difficult for senior management.
Blaik Wilson, Reval
Blaik Wilson, Reval

What are some of the technology trends you are seeing in Asia-Pacific?
Similar to other parts of the world, there is a strong trend toward adoption of cloud and web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) financial applications. These applications reduce, if not eliminate, the IT burden of acquiring and supporting software. Companies simply subscribe to the functionality they want to use in an application, avoiding the large up-front capital investment required with client and server installation. This enables companies of all sizes to take advantage of much needed efficiency and straight-through processing workflow.

Asian companies may not have the burden of outdated technology, and at the same time technology capabilities are accelerating faster than in Europe and the US. Are they ready to implement new technologies?
Asian companies are definitely well positioned to implement new technologies such as cloud computing solutions without the overhead of massive third-party system integration and process overhaul. However, Asian companies must also make the cultural shift towards investing in automation. This cultural change can be difficult within treasury and for senior management, if these organisational groups have always operated a manual, less structured process. Still, companies that do invest will gain a competitive advantage over their peers.

How open are Asian companies to implementing new technologies? Why do you think this is the case?
Asian companies are typically very open to bringing in new technologies – we have seen this in play over the last decade in telecommunications, for instance, where the growth in mobile and internet adoption has surpassed western counterparts. Beyond the tremendous economic growth experienced in Asia, the cost of entry into new technologies tends to be lower than the older, infrastructure-heavy platforms, and this has made new technologies more affordable to Asian companies.

What are some of the challenges corporate treasurers should expect to face when choosing a solution, service or system?
The challenge is not only considering your current requirements, but anticipating future needs and the ‘what is possible’ under the new solution. For instance, you may not hedge fuel risk now in your business, but is that something that may occur next year when new operations come on line? Perhaps the proposed solution offers complex value at risk, but is that something you actually need or want to pay for? Finding the best fit for now and for the future, therefore, seems to be one of the greatest challenges, but your system provider should be able to adjust their offering for a best fit.

With a new breed of MNCs coming from Asia, does SaaS offer more flexibility? And why?
The SaaS model benefits multinational corporations (MNCs) in a number of ways, typically around lower costs and standardised processes. A true, multi-tenant, single version SaaS allows a consistent roll-out across business units. Customer support will also be working off that same version globally, so support will also be consistent. Naturally, with no investment required in hardware and no upfront license fee, costs are significantly reduced. It also means smaller operations can be added with an investment commensurate to their need. The upgrade process is often a nightmare for MNCs with client and server installations because it is often staggered across different regions to meet resource limitations and disparate timelines. With a true SaaS model, all regions are updated simultaneously with significantly reduced, and often centralised, resources monitoring the process.

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