The machine-assistant will change the face of substance
In the not too distant past, substance was mainly the concern of tax geeks and finance nerds. As I fall into the former group, I’ve been into the subject for a long time. But times have certainly changed. It’s hard to pick up a newspaper today without coming across an article decrying such and such a company for not paying tax in such and such a country. The world has become more complex, and regulations, public pressure and the looming specter of media scrutiny have put substance firmly on the agenda for all kinds of companies. Hence, what exactly is substance? Though substance comes in many shapes and sizes, an accurate definition would be: Substance is the business set-up required to effectively manage and control your business operations. Historically, when highlighting what’s required to run our companies, one has the tendency to narrow it down to people or square meters of property as the benchmarks for substance. While both are indispensable, the right technology and software can also play a significant role – especially when automation comes into play. Simple, repetitive, recurrent tasks are ripe for automation, leaving humans free to focus on the value-add.
Using technology for the 4Cs of good governance
With the right mix of automation and brainpower, a company can fulfill the standards of excellent governance, management without exploiting an army. Let’s explore how automation can help companies with the 4Cs of good governance. Collect, Control, Conclude and Communicate.
Collect – Clever platforms should enable companies to collect all their data from their innumerable sources to centralize it on one single platform for deployment. Simple copy and paste operations are ripe for automation, eliminating room for human error and reducing time spent on repetitive tasks.
Control – Machines can also help mangers to control the data as well as put them in the relevant automated routine processes to make managers more efficient. Push up messages remember managers the need of notifications and reports as well as automatic monitoring of deadlines and volume of work ahead are basic controls that machines can easily run.
Conclude – When the company is ready to conclude or effectively manage and control its business, dashboards containing all the necessary data allow managers to oversee ongoing operations. Monitoring allows management to spot and even investigate issues before they develop into business risk.
Communication – At any given moment in a compliance or management process, a company may wish to share information with a specific stakeholder (clients, vendors, boards, regulators). It may be a simple status update, or notification that further data is required. A good platform should enable external stakeholders to deliver their data support directly and seamlessly into your feeds for later validation. This avoids loss of time on both sides and reduces the risk of double entries.
Technology, the new substance
Technology has reached a stage where we can be relieved of burdensome tasks like collection and control, so as to focus our attention on key stakeholder communication and the management of our business. This all suggests that we’re at a turning point. If machines are taking on more and more work, can the number of employees really be the best measure of substance? Efficient set-ups allow companies to have highly qualified managers who are, importantly, machine-assisted and therefore able to fully oversee and control the business, while making the day-to-day high-level decisions central to risk mitigation. Technology set up is, without a shadow of a doubt, a major part of substance in efficiently organized companies of the future.