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RPA for Corporate Treasury: The Case of When, Not If

Robotic process automation (RPA) offers businesses the opportunity to “harness the power of a digital workforce”. Here, Diana Diaz Curiel, Senior Consultant at Zanders, and Annick de Groof, Consultant at Zanders explain how treasurers can best fit RPA into the wider digital transformation journey, and why it is a tool that will redefine and elevate corporate treasury.

The treasury environment is increasingly complex, with new business models, changing regulations, growing competition, and an increasing focus on real-time information. Change and uncertainty have become the new normal. The pandemic has accelerated the momentum towards digital-first strategies as companies aim to stay competitive and relevant. While in many finance functions robotic process automation (RPA) technology is moving towards its adoption phase, treasury seems to be lagging. What are the causes behind this ‘drag’ in RPA adoption? Why is the deployment of RPA in treasury departments strategically relevant?

According to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc1, global RPA software revenue is predicted to reach nearly USD$2bn in 2021. Grand View Research2 has indicated RPA revenue could reach USD$13.74bn in 2028. The latest Deloitte SSC and Outsourcing survey3 also highlighted that 72% of high-performing global organisations with a digital strategy have already successfully implemented RPA. Finally, IDC4 recently predicted that by 2022, 45% of repetitive tasks will be automated and/or augmented by using “digital co-workers”, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and RPA.

These statistics show that the adoption of RPA is becoming mainstream across industries with the potential of becoming part of almost every organisation  within the next five to 10 years. However, with the digital workforce becoming a reality, where is corporate treasury in the adoption curve? The 2020-2021 Journeys to Treasury report –  compiled through a collaboration between BNP Paribas, the European Association of Corporate Treasurers (EACT), PwC and SAP5 – identified that 46% of treasurers use or plan to start using RPA in the next 12 months.