As businesses across Europe accelerate their digital transformations, savvy corporate treasurers have a unique opportunity to secure enriched data insights, says Daniela Eder, Head of Payments & Cash Management Europe, Barclays. In turn, this could enable treasury functions to become fitter, both operationally and financially, assuming technology budgets are deployed strategically and cybersecurity is prioritised.
In recent years, it has often been said that ‘data is the new gold’. But ever since the corporate treasury profession began in the 1970s, data has resided at the heart of the function. And as technology has evolved – and data has become more sophisticated – so too has the role of the treasurer.
Before the advent of online banking in the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of treasury’s time was taken up gathering data through cumbersome channels such as telex and fax. With e-banking now commonplace, data flows freely into treasury functions, through portals and host-to-host connections into treasury management systems (TMSs) and enterprise resource planners (ERPs). And as emerging technologies – such as application programming interfaces (APIs) and artificial intelligence (AI) – take hold, a new breed of treasury function is being born: the data-driven treasury.
Eder explains: “As businesses across Europe, and the globe, embrace digital transformation, huge amounts of data are being generated and stored on servers, often located in the cloud. This proliferation of data represents a significant opportunity for corporate treasurers.” By tapping into these ‘data lakes’, she believes treasury departments can become more efficient, more effective and more profitable – all while operating in real time. “Through data, treasurers can achieve smarter insights, greater transparency, faster decision-making, better use of working capital and more accurate and timely cash flow forecasting. These are just some examples of the potential benefits on offer.”