On the 13th July 2024, the Directors from X3 Consulting will be completing the Thames Path Mighty Hike, walking along the beautiful Thames Path from Windsor Racecourse to Henley, covering 26 miles in total. The Macmillan Mighty Hike is an annual fundraising event organised by Macmillan Cancer Support. It involves participants hiking a challenging but scenic route in various locations across the UK, typically covering distances of 26 miles or more in a single day. Participants can register individually or as part of a team, and they are encouraged to raise funds through sponsorship for their hike, with the proceeds going to support Macmillan’s vital services for people affected by cancer.

Join us on our journey as we lace up our hiking boots, step into the great outdoors, and made a meaningful difference in the lives of those affected by cancer by raising vital funds. Nick Tucker, Jaco Esterhuysen, Tanya Esterhuysen and Kelly Tucker will be taking part in the mighty hike raising funds for Macmillan cancer support. Macmillan Cancer Support is a UK-based charity organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by cancer. They offer a wide range of services including medical, emotional, and financial support to individuals diagnosed with cancer, as well as their families and caregivers. Macmillan provides practical assistance such as specialist nurses, helplines, financial advice, and information resources to help navigate the complexities of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

At X3 consulting, we believe that small actions have the power to create big change. By supporting the Macmillan Mighty Hike, we’re not just hiking for a cause; we’re hiking for hope, for healing, and for a future free from the grips of cancer. Join us as we take on this monumental challenge, knowing that together, we can make a meaningful impact in the lives of those who need it most.

You can support us here by donating to our Just Giving page.

The manufacturing industry continues to undergo significant transformations driven by technological advancements, shifting consumer demands, and global disruptions. In this landscape of change, manufacturers face a multitude of challenges that can impact their operations and competitiveness. Understanding these challenges and leveraging digital transformation tools such as Sage ERP software becomes crucial for staying ahead. Let’s delve into the biggest challenges manufacturers may encounter in 2024, why digital transformation is essential, and how upgrading to Sage ERP can provide full visibility across the entire business.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Supply chain disruptions have become increasingly common due to factors such as geopolitical tensions, natural disasters, and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These disruptions can lead to delays in production, shortages of raw materials, and increased costs. Manufacturers need robust supply chain management tools to mitigate risks, optimise inventory levels, and ensure continuity of operations.

Demand Volatility

Consumer preferences are evolving rapidly, driven by factors such as changing demographics, emerging technologies, and sustainability concerns. Manufacturers must be agile and responsive to fluctuations in demand to avoid overstocking or under stocking inventory. Real-time data analytics provided by digital transformation tools enable manufacturers to anticipate demand trends, adjust production schedules accordingly, and optimise resource allocation.

Operational Efficiency

Achieving operational efficiency remains a perennial challenge for manufacturers. Inefficient processes, outdated technologies, and siloed systems can hinder productivity and increase costs. Digital transformation initiatives, including the adoption of integrated ERP solutions like Sage ERP, enable manufacturers to streamline operations, automate repetitive tasks, and optimize workflows across departments. By eliminating inefficiencies, manufacturers can improve resource utilisation and enhance overall profitability.

Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with regulatory standards and industry-specific requirements is a complex and evolving challenge for manufacturers. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal liabilities, and reputation damage. Digital transformation tools such as Sage ERP provide manufacturers with robust compliance management capabilities, including tracking regulatory changes, maintaining audit trails, and ensuring adherence to quality control processes. By centralising compliance management within a unified platform, manufacturers can reduce the risk of non-compliance and demonstrate their commitment to regulatory compliance.

Why Digital Transformation Matters

In the face of these challenges, digital transformation is not merely an option but a strategic imperative for manufacturers. Embracing digital technologies enables manufacturers to enhance agility, improve operational efficiency, mitigate risks, and drive innovation. By leveraging tools such as cloud-based ERP solutions, manufacturers can achieve greater scalability, flexibility, and resilience in the face of disruptions.

The Role of Sage ERP in Providing Full Visibility

Upgrading to Sage ERP offers manufacturers comprehensive visibility across the entire business, from supply chain management to production planning and financial reporting. Sage ERP provides real-time insights into key performance indicators, enabling manufacturers to make data-driven decisions and respond quickly to changing market dynamics. With integrated modules for inventory management, procurement, sales, and finance, Sage ERP ensures seamless coordination and collaboration across departments, suppliers, and partners. By consolidating disparate systems into a single, unified platform, Sage ERP enables manufacturers to achieve full visibility and control over their operations, driving efficiency, innovation, and growth in 2024 and beyond.

In conclusion, manufacturers in 2024 must confront a myriad of challenges ranging from supply chain disruptions to demand volatility and regulatory compliance. Digital transformation is essential for overcoming these challenges and maintaining competitiveness in an increasingly complex and dynamic environment. Upgrading to Sage ERP empowers manufacturers with the tools and insights needed to navigate these challenges successfully, providing full visibility across the entire business and positioning them for sustainable growth and success.

 

For more information on how you can embrace technology within your manufacturing operations, click here for access to FREE whitepaper and checklists.

X3 Consulting will be attending this it Showcase at St James’ Park Newcastle Stadium, on Tuesday 16th April 2024. This event is specifically focussed on helping businesses identify what software they require to grow their business.

Getting your software project off to the best start requires that you speak to the right people. People who understand your business and the challenges you face on a daily basis.

Not only does itSHOWCASE present more specialist software suppliers than any other UK event, but we’re also the only event that brings them to you.

 

Venue and date:

St James’ Park

Barrack Rd

Newcastle upon Tyne

NE1 4ST

Tuesday 16th April 2024

10am to 2pm

REGISTER FREE HERE

Ready to upgrade now?

If you have already decided it’s time to update your business software, the itSHOWCASE ERP software discovery event is a great place to start looking. The X3 Consulting team will be there to guide you through the benefits of upgrading to Sage X3 and Sage Intacct and discuss the unique software from Trax3ion developed to help in scoping your needs prior to the Sage implementation.

Not quite ready to change yet?

That’s no problem either. You still need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s out there. Meet our Sage X3 and Sage Intacct experts and discuss what the future holds so, when the time comes to upgrade, you know you’ll be ready.

Learn what the future holds and how to access the software

The pace of technological change has never been greater. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Cloud Computing. Visiting itSHOWCASE will help you demystify the technologies that fuel digital transformation and help you avoid some of the pitfalls when deciding to embrace digital change for your business.

Why start your project with a large financial outlay when you’ll only start to reap the full benefits of your new system after you’ve gone live? We are helping businesses get the software they need for tomorrow, today with Buy It Your Way from X3 Consulting, find out more by clicking this link.

If you’d like a one-to-one discussion with our team you can book a session now on-line using our contact form here or come along on the day and speak to one of our experts.

We look forward to seeing you there!

In November 2022 Sage announced they were extending maintenance on Sage X3 Version 11 for a further 12 months until April 1st, 2024. Now this deadline is fast approaching, we wanted to reiterate that following this date, customers on Version 11 will no longer receive maintenance from Sage (patches or bug fixes)  – but will still receive support from Sage.

We are raising awareness amongst our customers and clients, and the importance for them to migrate their Sage X3 solution to the latest release for several reasons and benefits:

  • Comply with the latest Lifecycle Policy and benefit from the best service, in complete security.
  • Take advantage of the technological and functional contributions of Version 12

 

The Maintenance contracts for Sage Version 11 customers following April 1st, 2024, will be adapted to reflect this change with any renewal contracts.
Please take note of the following support services that will be available for our customers on Version 11:

  • Sage Web Assistance access 24/7
  • Access to the knowledge base
  • Access to the library of articles written by our software and business experts,
  • “Tips & Tricks”, FAQ
  • Access to the Sage City community
  • Access to all existing patches on the version in question

 

To be clear, as per Sage’s Lifecycle Policy published in November 2022, the team will not be providing maintenance on Version 11 whatever the nature of the issue is (Blocker, critical, major, minor).

We wanted to remind you of this upcoming deadline so that you can make plans to talk your account manager Jeremy Cook and find out more about how you can upgrade to the latest version.

 

The right inventory software can make all the difference in the world for a small business. Customised solutions for small businesses must strike a balanced between affordability, functionality, and ease-of-use. When selecting inventory software, small businesses need to consider the following key features:

1. User-Friendly Interface:

A user-friendly and intuitive interface is essential for small businesses. Software should be simple to use and require minimal training. Search for software that offers simple functionalities to ensure that learning curves do not hinder efficient inventory management.

2. Scalability:

A good inventory system should grow along with your business. Scalability is the ability of the software to adapt to a growing company, allowing for a larger catalog, more transactions and additional users, without compromising on performance.

3. Integration Capabilities

Software that integrates seamlessly with other business tools is ideal, including accounting software, ecommerce platforms and point of sale systems. Integration simplifies operations, reduces data entry and gives a holistic view of the business processes.

4. Mobile Accessibility:

Mobile accessibility is essential in the age of remote working and mobile business operations. Inventory management software with mobile apps or responsive web-interfaces allows business owners and staff to manage their inventory anywhere, at any time.

5. Affordability:

Budgets are often tight for small businesses. The cost-effectiveness is therefore a major consideration. Search for software that offers flexible pricing, so that you can only pay for features that your business requires.

6. Inventory tracking and alerts:

To avoid stockouts or overstocking, it is essential that small businesses track their inventory accurately. Software should be able to provide real-time stock updates and send out automatic alerts when stock is low or expiration dates are approaching. This proactive approach is important for maintaining optimal stock levels.

7. Reporting & Analytics:

For informed decision making, it is essential to have comprehensive reporting and analytics capabilities. Software that offers detailed insight into key metrics such as stock turnover and sales trends is ideal for small businesses. Such data allows businesses to take strategic decisions to grow.

8. Data Security and Protection:

It is important to ensure that your inventory and financial information are secure, particularly when you’re dealing with sensitive data. To protect your business data, ensure that the inventory management software you choose employs robust security and adheres to data protection regulations.

Small businesses should choose inventory management software that meets their specific needs. Businesses can make informed decisions by evaluating factors like user-friendliness and scalability. They should also consider integration capabilities, mobile access, affordability, inventory reporting and security.

For more information on how you can embrace technology within your wholesale and distribution operations, click here for access to FREE E-books, whitepapers and infograph.

Key Factors to Boost Operational Efficiency

It is essential to stay competitive in an age where manufacturing is changing rapidly. Manufacturing software systems are indispensable, providing a variety of benefits which significantly improve operational efficiency.

These key points highlight the transformational impact of these systems on production processes:

Automation to Improve Efficiency: Software systems for manufacturing automate routine and time-consuming processes. Automation reduces the workload on workers, from data entry to monitoring. This allows them to concentrate on strategic and high-value activities. It not only speeds up processes, but it also reduces the chance of error. This ensures a high-quality output and a consistent standard.

Real Time Data Analytics: It is impossible to overstate the power of real time data analysis. Manufacturing software systems offer a central platform for monitoring and analysing production processes in real time. This visibility provides decision makers with accurate, up-to date information that allows them to respond quickly to any changes in demand or supply chain disruptions.

Manufacturing Execution Systems: The MES integrates different aspects of production from planning to tracking and creates a synchronised workflow. This integration promotes better communication among departments, resulting in optimised resource usage and reduced downtime. The managers gain valuable insight into the production process. This allows them to make informed choices that improve overall operational efficiency.

Quality Control and Assurance Advanced Manufacturing Software Systems enable real-time monitoring. Automated quality control processes allow manufacturers to detect deviations instantly and make the necessary adjustments. This proactive approach ensures that the product is consistently of high quality and reduces waste.

Supply chain optimisation with MRP: Software for Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP), revolutionises supply management. With automated reordering points and accurate demand forecasting, materials will be available at the right time. This optimisation reduces excess stock and delays while improving the overall efficiency of supply chains.

Continuous Improvement and Strategic Implementation: A strategic approach is required for the successful implementation of manufacturing software. It includes employee training and seamless system integration as well as a commitment towards continuous improvement. Regular updates and evaluations ensure that software is aligned with changing business needs and trends in the industry, maximising its effectiveness.

Manufacturing software systems play a key role in operational efficiency within the manufacturing industry. Automation, real-time analytics, MES (managed enterprise systems), quality control and supply chain optimisation all contribute to a competitive and streamlined manufacturing environment. By embracing these technologies, manufacturers are better positioned to not only meet the current challenges but to also thrive in an industry where digital innovation will continue to shape it. In an evolving manufacturing landscape, these software solutions are no longer a decision but a strategic imperative to achieve long-term success.

 

For more information on how you can embrace technology within your manufacturing operations, click here for access to FREE whitepaper and checklists.

X3 Consulting will be attending this it Showcase at Twickenham Stadium, on Tuesday 19th March 2024. This event is specifically focussed on helping businesses identify what software they require to grow their business.

Getting your software project off to the best start requires that you speak to the right people. People who understand your business and the challenges you face on a daily basis.

Not only does itSHOWCASE present more specialist software suppliers than any other UK event, but we’re also the only event that brings them to you.

Venue and date:

Twickenham Stadium

200 Whitton Road

Twickenham

TW2 7BA

Tuesday 19th March 2024

10am to 2pm

REGISTER FREE HERE

Ready to upgrade now?

If you have already decided it’s time to update your business software, the itSHOWCASE ERP software discovery event is a great place to start looking. The X3 Consulting team will be there to guide you through the benefits of upgrading to Sage X3 and Sage Intacct and discuss the unique software from Trax3ion developed to help in scoping your needs prior to the Sage implementation.

Not quite ready to change yet?

That’s no problem either. You still need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s out there. Meet our Sage X3 and Sage Intacct experts and discuss what the future holds so, when the time comes to upgrade, you know you’ll be ready.

Learn what the future holds and how to access the software

The pace of technological change has never been greater. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Cloud Computing. Visiting itSHOWCASE will help you demystify the technologies that fuel digital transformation and help you avoid some of the pitfalls when deciding to embrace digital change for your business.

Why start your project with a large financial outlay when you’ll only start to reap the full benefits of your new system after you’ve gone live? We are helping businesses get the software they need for tomorrow, today with Buy It Your Way from X3 Consulting, find out more by clicking this link.

If you’d like a one-to-one discussion with our team you can book a session now on-line using our contact form here or come along on the day and speak to one of our experts.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Enterprise Resource Planning software is becoming increasingly important in the complex world of inventory and supply chain management. ERP systems are a great way to streamline your operations in a world where precision and efficiency are key.

Firstly, ERP software allows for real-time visibility across the entire supply chain. Due to this transparency, businesses can track inventory levels, monitor orders, and anticipate disruptions quickly. Distributors can optimise their supply chain by centralising information and making informed decisions.

Moreover, ERP systems facilitate seamless integration among departments, removing the silos which often hinder communication. With data synchronised from order fulfilment to procurement, organisations can eliminate errors and redundancies, and ensure accurate information throughout the entire supply chain.

Automation is another key feature of ERP software that transforms inventory management. Automation of routine tasks such as reordering and order processing reduces human error and speeds up the supply chain cycle. It not only increases accuracy, but it also allows employees to spend more time on strategic initiatives.

Furthermore, ERP software enhances forecasting demand through advanced analytics. Organisations can more accurately predict future demand by analysing historical data. Distributors can optimise their inventory levels by using this proactive approach. This prevents excess stock and shortages.

In conclusion, ERP software is a powerful tool for supply chain management and inventory control. The ability of ERP software to centralise data, encourage collaboration, automate processes, and provide analytic insights allows businesses to adapt to a dynamic market.

In addition to its real-time visibility and integration capabilities, ERP software revolutionises supply chain and inventory management through advanced analytics and reporting tools. These features empower organisations to make data-driven decisions, helping them understand market trends, customer preferences, and supplier performance. By leveraging this intelligence, businesses can optimise inventory levels, minimise carrying costs, and align their strategies with market demand.

ERP systems also contribute to better supplier relationships. Through centralised communication channels, distributors can collaborate seamlessly with suppliers, sharing real-time data on inventory levels and demand forecasts. This collaborative approach fosters stronger partnerships, allowing for more agile responses to changes in supply and demand dynamics.

Furthermore, ERP software enhances traceability and compliance. With a unified system, organisations can easily trace the origins and movements of products throughout the supply chain. This not only aids in quality control but also ensures compliance with industry regulations and standards.

Ultimately, the integration of ERP software into supply chain and inventory management processes enables businesses to transform their operations from reactive to proactive. By providing a holistic view of the entire supply chain, streamlining communication, and leveraging analytics, ERP systems empower organisations to navigate the complexities of modern distribution, fostering resilience and driving sustained growth in an ever-evolving market.

For more information on how you can embrace technology within your wholesale and distribution operations, click here for access to FREE E-books, whitepapers and infograph.

When choosing an ERP partner, consider these top tips for a successful implementation. Firstly, assess the partner’s experience and expertise in your industry, ensuring they understand the unique challenges and requirements of your business. Check references and case studies to gauge their track record. Secondly, evaluate the flexibility and scalability of the ERP solution they offer to ensure it aligns with your current and future needs. Additionally, assess their level of support and responsiveness, as ongoing assistance is crucial. Look for a partner that prioritises user training and change management to facilitate a smooth transition. Finally, clarify the costs involved and ensure transparency in pricing. A well-aligned ERP partner will not only implement the system effectively but also contribute to the long-term success of your business.

Implementing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) manufacturing software is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. To ensure a successful implementation, consider the following checklist:

  1. Define Objectives and Scope:

    • Clearly outline the objectives of implementing ERP manufacturing software.
    • Define the scope of the project, specifying which business processes and functions will be covered.
  2. Conduct a Needs Assessment:

    • Evaluate current business processes and identify pain points.
    • Understand the specific requirements of the manufacturing industry.
  3. Build a Cross-Functional Team:

    • Assemble a dedicated team with representatives from different departments (production, finance, HR, etc.).
    • Include key stakeholders who can provide valuable insights.
  4. Select the Right ERP Vendor:

    • Research and choose an ERP vendor with experience in manufacturing.
    • Evaluate the software’s features, scalability, and flexibility.
  5. Customisation and Configuration:

    • Determine the level of customisation required to meet your unique business needs.
    • Configure the ERP system based on your business processes.
  6. Data Migration:

    • Develop a plan for migrating existing data to the new ERP system.
    • Ensure data accuracy and integrity during the migration process.
  7. Integration with Existing Systems:

    • Identify existing systems that need to integrate with the ERP.
    • Ensure seamless data flow between the ERP system and other business applications.
  8. User Training:

    • Develop a comprehensive training program for end-users.
    • Train employees on how to use the ERP system effectively.
  9. Change Management:

    • Implement a change management strategy to address resistance and foster a positive attitude towards the new system.
    • Communicate the benefits of the ERP system to employees.
  10. Testing:

    • Conduct thorough testing of the ERP system before full implementation.
    • Address any issues or bugs identified during testing.
  11. Pilot Implementation:

    • Roll out the ERP system in a controlled environment or with a small group of users.
    • Gather feedback and make necessary adjustments before full deployment.
  12. Go-Live Planning:

    • Develop a detailed go-live plan outlining the steps for the full implementation.
    • Have a support team available during the initial days of operation.
  13. Post-Implementation Support:

    • Establish a post-implementation support system to address issues and provide ongoing assistance.
    • Monitor system performance and user feedback.
  14. Continuous Improvement:

    • Implement a process for continuous improvement, allowing for updates and enhancements as needed.
    • Regularly review the system’s performance against business objectives.
  15. Compliance and Security:

    • Ensure that the ERP system complies with industry regulations.
    • Implement robust security measures to protect sensitive data.
  16. Documentation:

    • Maintain detailed documentation of the ERP system configuration, processes, and user guides.
    • Document any customisations or changes made post-implementation.

By following this checklist, organisations can streamline the implementation of ERP manufacturing software and maximise the benefits of this powerful tool for improving operational efficiency.

For more information on how you can embrace technology within your manufacturing operations, click here for access to FREE whitepaper and checklists.

Efficiency is essential to success in the dynamic and fast-paced world of modern business. Inventory management software is one way businesses can improve their operational efficiency. This powerful tool can offer a variety of benefits, including the ability to streamline processes, cut costs and improve overall performance.

1. Accuracy and Real-time visibility:

Inventory management software allows businesses to see their stock levels in real time, providing accurate and current information. It helps to avoid stockouts and overstocks. Businesses can also meet customer demands quickly. Businesses can improve their decision-making process and maintain a competitive advantage by minimizing inventory errors.

2. Reduce Costs and Improve ROI:

Inventory management software can help optimise stock levels and reduce obsolescence risk. It also helps to prevent unnecessary holding costs. Businesses can make informed purchasing and stocking decisions, preventing under- or over ordering. This can lead to cost savings of up to 50% and an increased return on investment.

3. Order Fulfilment Improved:

Businesses can improve their order fulfilment process by using accurate, real-time data on inventory. Inventory management software allows for better control of order processing. It reduces lead times, and ensures timely deliveries. It not only increases customer satisfaction, but it also helps to establish a positive image for your business.

4. Improved Supplier Relationships:

Inventory management software can improve communication between suppliers and businesses. Businesses can improve their relationships with suppliers by negotiating better terms and discounts. This collaborative approach creates a more efficient and reliable supply chain.

5. Data Driven Decision Making:

Inventory management software provides businesses with actionable insight through its comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities. Managers can base their decisions on historical data, demand patterns and other relevant metrics. This data-driven strategy helps businesses to adapt to changes in the market, anticipate trends and stay ahead of their competition.

6. Auditing and Compliance:

Inventory management software is a great tool for businesses that operate in industries with strict regulations and standards. The software simplifies auditing by providing accurate, traceable records. Businesses can then demonstrate compliance with legal requirements.

Conclusion: Investing in inventory management software can be a strategic decision for businesses looking to optimise their operation. Its benefits, which include improved accuracy, visibility, cost reduction, and better decision-making make it a valuable asset for sustainable growth. Technology is a key component of the future business landscape. It will not only give you a competitive edge, but also help you achieve long-term success.

Find out more about the future of wholesale and distribution by downloading the E-Book Free! CLICK HERE.

Distributors will face a new set of challenges in 2024, as the world of distribution continues to evolve at a rapid pace. They must be prepared for these challenges if they want to remain competitive and efficient.Distributors are at the crossroads of complexity and opportunity. From supply chain disruptions, to the growing demand for personalised experiences with customers, they face a number of challenges.This article explores the challenges that distributors will face in 2024, and how Enterprise Resource Planning software can help them overcome these obstacles.

Supply chain disruptions: Global factors such as geopolitical tensions and natural disasters have disrupted supply chains. Distributors struggle with delays, shortages and increased costs. ERP software gives distributors real-time insight into their entire supply chain. This allows them to mitigate disruptions, identify alternative suppliers and optimise inventory levels.

Increasing Customer Expectations: At the age of giant e-commerce companies, customers demand seamless and personalised experiences. Distributors face increasing pressure to improve their services. This includes everything from faster order fulfilment, to transparent tracking. ERP systems provide tools for order management and customer relationship management. Distributors can use these features to meet and exceed customers’ expectations in a competitive market.

Data security concerns: With the digitalisation of society, cyber-attacks against sensitive business and customer data continue to grow. Distributors need to invest in robust cybersecurity measures in order to protect their business. ERP software centralises information and includes security protocols. This protects critical information from unauthorised access and reduces the risk of data breaches.

Regulatory Compliance Regulations are constantly changing, and distributors need to stay up-to-date with the changes in order to avoid legal consequences. In the event of non-compliance with regulations, fines can be imposed, reputations damaged, and operations disrupted. ERP systems are equipped with features to streamline compliance management. They automatically update processes in accordance with the latest regulations, and provide an audit trail.

Integration challenges: Many distribution companies use disparate systems to manage their inventory, process orders, and handle financials. This leads to inefficiencies and mistakes. ERP software integrates all of these functions onto a single platform. This eliminates silos and ensures seamless communication between departments. This integration improves accuracy, reduces errors and speeds up decision-making.

Employee Productivity & Training: It can be difficult to keep employees abreast of the latest technologies, and ensure optimal productivity. ERP systems offer user-friendly interfaces, centralised data access and reduce the learning curve. The training becomes more efficient and employees can adapt to new features quickly.

Dynamic market conditions: Markets change faster than ever before, and distributors must be flexible in order to respond to changing trends and demand. ERP software offers analytical tools to help distributors understand market trends, forecast demands, and take data-driven decision. Distributors can adapt quickly to changes in the market and seize new opportunities with this agility.

The challenges that distributors will face in 2024 are multifaceted and complex. The adoption of ERP software is a viable solution to these challenges. ERP systems enable distributors to improve efficiency, increase customer satisfaction and thrive on the dynamic market of 2024 by providing a comprehensive, integrated approach to management.

Find out more about the future of wholesale and distribution by downloading the E-Book Free! CLICK HERE.

What does the increase in AI mean for finances leaders and what is the impact of the growth in popularity of AI technology.

With ChatGPT and generative artificial intelligence (AI), the pace of progress with AI in finance has been remarkable. From mobile phones to the metaverse, we’re used to technological breakthroughs and rapid uptake from users. But even with this rapid progress, AI’s leap into the public consciousness has surprised many. In particular, the emergence of ChatGPT has shaken the world, with people only beginning to understand what it means for the future of business technology. As we continue to embrace technology, CFOs and financial leaders need to understand the growing potential of generative AI and ChatGPT. With the ability to automate mundane tasks, analyse large data sets, and even generate reports, AI could change how your business operates.

In this article, we explain how generative AI tools and their potential applications work. By understanding what they do, you might see opportunities to use them to increase efficiency, reduce costs and drive business growth.

Here’s what this article covers:

  • What is generative AI and ChatGPT?
  • Why are financial professionals excited about AI?
  • ChatGPT—a ‘super assistant’ for financial teams?
  • The limitations and drawbacks of ChatGPT
  • What could generative AI look like for your finance department?
  • OpenAI’s generative API available for businesses
  • The future of AI in financial management
  • The importance of AI trust and ethics
  • Growing businesses need dedicated financial technology tools
  • Final thoughts on ChatGPT and generative AI

What is generative AI and ChatGPT?

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content independently, without explicit instructions or data input.

One example of generative AI is ChatGPT, which stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer.

It’s a language model that uses deep learning to generate human-like responses to user inputs.

By analysing vast amounts of data, ChatGPT can learn to mimic human conversation and generate responses that are both coherent and relevant to the conversation at hand.

Why are financial professionals excited about AI?

AI tools are becoming increasingly popular in financial management because they can automate routine tasks, improve accuracy, and provide valuable insights.

With reams of financial data generated daily, traditional financial management methods no longer feel sufficient for the work you need to do today.

With AI and automation, you can analyse vast amounts of data, and identify patterns and trends you might otherwise miss.

With more accurate financial reports, you can make more informed decisions.

Additionally, AI tools could automate routine tasks, create financial reports and handle customer enquiries, freeing your team to focus on more strategic tasks.

Angus Gregory, CEO of software provider Biomni, says passing information from one colleague to another is essential in maintaining smooth operations within a company.

This is especially true in the finance sector.

Angus says: “In finance, day-to-day activities are heavily based on knowledge sharing, be that business-specific processes, compliance information or developments in the industry.

“Many of these tasks could be automated, an area in which AI excels.

“Using ChatGPT in the financial sector could significantly improve organisation, productivity and overall growth.”

As AI technology advances, it’s increasingly likely that your competitors will adopt AI tools as part of their financial management strategy.

Microsoft is a company that is betting the farm on AI’s potential to transform financial management, investing $10bn with ChatGPT’s creator, OpenAI as a key part of its business strategy.

You can connect the dots and see that Microsoft’s investment in AI is partly driven by a belief that AI can help financial professionals make better decisions, improve operational efficiency, and drive growth.

Speaking at the World Finance Forum in London, Microsoft UK CFO Mark McCardle said AI is a “game changer” and the most intelligent scientists in the world describe AI as “more transformational than the invention of the internet”.

“AI will change how we work, though, in finance, we’re not yet using it to its fullest potential,” he said.

“However, we’ve advanced in machine learning when it comes to predicting the future by using information from the past—algorithms can forecast better than I can.

“At Microsoft, we use AI for standard forecasting, where we understand the customer pipeline through revenue forecasting of our different solutions.

“Every week, we review this information with market leaders and discuss where our customers are going. It’s where the science comes together with human review—going with what computers tell us and rationalising it.”

DOWNLOAD THE MANAGING MODERN FINANCE REPORT HERE.

ChatGPT—a ‘super assistant’ for financial teams?

Let’s focus on what your finance team might already be doing with ChatGPT.

ChatGPT can generate texts, create summaries, assist with complex assignments or research tasks, automate repetitive tasks, and pull out requested information—all of which are invaluable for streamlining the daily work of financial teams.

Angus Gregory outlined specific examples, such as:

  • Analysing huge datasets in a matter of seconds—you could assess financial markets, identify patterns, and predict the outcome of certain decisions quickly and effectively.
  • Helping with governance and complying with legal requirements when used within a framework and provided with the right prompts.
  • Generating digestible summaries of documents and policies, as well as presenting large amounts of information in an organised manner for reporting purposes.
  • Supporting ‘blue sky thinking’ and brainstorming sessions around topics such as growth or cost saving.

Daniele Grassi, CEO of fintech company Axyon AI, says AI can see things financial professionals can’t see because of its ability to analyse and cross-reference large quantities of data at a granular level quickly and accurately.

He says: “AI has a superior ability to identify non-linear patterns in data, such as fundamentals, technical indicators and macroeconomics.

“It can see how those patterns have developed over time and how they interact, using them to predict future returns.

“Additionally, AI technology can be used by financial services businesses, such as asset managers, to automate specific tasks, giving managers more time to spend on more significant aspects of their portfolio management.”

Paul Ronan is the chief technology officer of FE fundinfo, an investment fund data and technology firm. He has a background in finance and technology, spanning around three decades.

With around 180 technologists, his team has already been using machine learning for a few years to handle large amounts of data, with more plans in motion to use AI to help clients.

Paul says that with ChatGPT, you need to use caution in implementing it, but it does have some obvious benefits.

He says: “You can use ChatGPT’s ability to learn naturally. It can help you understand people’s needs and direct them to the right resources.

“This is especially useful in businesses where it can be hard to find the information or support needed to do a job well.”

Humans don’t like to read lots of information, and that could be particularly useful in the finance space, especially in an area like compliance.

Paul adds: “Some financial and compliance-related documents are often lengthy.

“By combining machine learning and chat features, AI could go through these sections of these documents and highlight important information.

“AI can act as a super assistant, providing frontline support and simplifying text processing.”

Streamlining communication

Because it replies like a human, you may already have seen how ChatGPT could streamline internal and external communication by providing quick and accurate responses to enquiries.

Internally, it can assist with team communication and collaboration by providing instant feedback and suggestions.

With some development work and the ChatGPT API, you could create a chatbot to help with customer enquiries, providing 24/7 availability and quick response times.

ChatGPT could save you time and resources by automating responses to common enquiries, freeing staff to focus on more complex issues.

Daniel Kroytor, founder and director at TailoredPay, said: “Many companies are implementing AI chatbots to power communications and understand the customer experience.

“Doing so allows teams to use advanced sentiment analysis to spot gaps and train chatbots to solve them.

“The fact that AI chatbots work 24/7 makes it easier and more accessible for consumers to engage when they need it most.”

What it might mean for your people

ChatGPT could change how your finance team works (you might be seeing this already):

1. It could encourage collaboration

Firstly, it can encourage collaboration among team members by providing AI-driven insights that foster discussion and collaboration.

By identifying patterns and trends in data, ChatGPT can provide valuable insights that inspire new ideas and encourage team members to work together towards shared goals.

You could improve communication and collaboration, leading to better decision-making and performance.

2. It might require upskilling and reskilling

Tools such as ChatGPT could encourage upskilling and reskilling among financial professionals.

With the increasing use of AI-powered tools in financial management, it will be essential for financial professionals to adapt and learn new skills to work alongside these tools, and you might need to provide training and support.

3. It could enhance strategic thinking

By automating routine tasks such as generating reports and handling customer inquiries, ChatGPT could free up staff to focus on more strategic tasks.

The limitations and drawbacks of ChatGPT

However, it’s worth noting that ChatGPT has several potential yet important limitations.

Limited domain knowledge, inaccuracies, and a lack of context understanding

Firstly, ChatGPT’s domain knowledge may be limited compared to specialised financial tools.

ChatGPT may not have access to the latest information or in-depth expertise in a particular area.

While it can analyse vast amounts of data and provide valuable insights, it may not have the same precision or accuracy as dedicated financial management software.

ChatGPT may also provide misleading information or lose track of context in conversations, leading to misunderstandings and incorrect replies.

Your finance team can’t afford mistakes of this nature, as you depend on accurate and reliable information to make critical decisions.

Paul Ronan says: “ChatGPT can hallucinate and make mistakes, which is concerning, especially in the financial sector where incorrect advice could have serious consequences.

“We expect these bots to be accurate, but they’re still learning, so there’s a challenge in ensuring reliability.”

Integration with existing systems

ChatGPT may not be fully compatible with existing systems, requiring additional resources and time to integrate effectively.

A better option is customisable financial management software that meets the specific needs of your business, meeting industry-specific requirements and compliance regulations.

Before adopting them fully into your operations, you must carefully evaluate the benefits and limitations of AI-powered tools such as ChatGPT.

Security

Feeding financial data into ChatGPT or any other AI model could pose a security risk. Financial data is often sensitive and confidential.

Criminals could use it for fraudulent activities or identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands.

Minimise security risks by encrypting financial data before feeding it into an AI model. Encryption is a process that converts the data into code that unauthorised individuals can’t easily read.

Additionally, it’s important to use secure communication channels when transmitting the data to the AI model.

It’s also important to have strict access controls and authorisation mechanisms to prevent unauthorised access to financial data.

You can ensure only authorised personnel have access to the data and that you grant access on a need-to-know basis.

Cybercriminals’ use of ChatGPT

You should be aware of cybercriminals using ChatGPT to attack you, says Jimmy Fong, chief commercial officer of fraud detection company Seon.

Jimmy says: “AI is getting more complex. We are seeing how this develops and what cybercriminals use as attack vectors.

“For example, we see the use of ChatGPT for application fraud and applications for online financial products.

“Bad actors can use ChatGPT to write these applications in very specific ways—whether in the style of someone over 55 or a student’s age.”

What could generative AI look like for your finance department?

Because of ChatGPT’s limitations, excitement for financial professionals could be less around what AI tools such as ChatGPT can do now and more about what it means for the future.

Let’s use an imagined example.

Emma is the CFO of a mid-sized company that’s experiencing rapid growth. Her workload, and that of her team, has increased significantly, and she needs a financial management solution to help her access and analyse financial data quickly and efficiently.

Emma decides to try out a financial management platform with AI natural language processing capabilities, so she can interact with financial data using natural language without navigating complex reports or spreadsheets.

For example, Emma can ask the platform questions like: “What are our top-selling products this quarter?” or: “How much cash do we have on hand?”

The platform will provide her with real-time insights in a conversational format.

The platform could generate customised financial reports and dashboards based on Emma’s specific requirements, allowing her to access the information she needs quickly and easily.

Thanks to AI and language processing capabilities, Emma accesses and analyses financial data quicker and more efficiently than ever, allowing her to make informed decisions and drive her company’s financial performance.

That’s just an example of what could be.

But, as Paul Ronan says: “Machine learning is already helping identify patterns and support questions in client platforms.

“As we gain confidence in AI, it could provide quick pivots on views and support advice for various fields like finance, tax, and compliance. With controlled narrative and clearer communication, AI can be a powerful tool for assisting professionals and building campaigns.”

Paul says large learning models such as ChatGPT have around 175 billion parameters (adjustable values that help the model make predictions).

This means they learn from data and adapt to find patterns and relationships. More parameters make the model more complex and capable but require more training resources and time.

These huge parameter numbers mean ChatGPT is a generalist able to answer anything, but it’s not a specialised expert in a particular area.

Paul states: “To have confidence in AI’s domain expertise in areas such as finance, we must move towards sparse expertise models that are easier and cheaper to train.

“These models will be specialised, allowing for mass adoption and increased confidence in the quality of their responses.

“The focus should be on creating expert systems specifically trained for industries like finance, pharmaceuticals, or others, rather than general models that are experts in every field.”

OpenAI’s API is open for business

You may have looked at getting access to OpenAI’s API as a cloud-based service. You can see the implications for finance, with the world already accessing AI language models.

You might see potential in using OpenAI’s API to create applications that automate customer service tasks, such as answering common enquiries, verifying customer identities, and assisting with financial transactions.

Or you could look at OpenAI’s language models for fraud detection and prevention, risk analysis, and investment decision-making.

OpenAI’s API provides developers with tools and resources to create customised language models tailored to your business’s needs.

Emmanuel Methivier, business program director, member of global digital catalysts at Axway, says: “The API is designed to be highly customisable and tailored to specific use cases.

“This means that developers can create applications that leverage the API’s advanced capabilities in various contexts, from chatbots to content creation tools.

“Overall, ChatGPT’s combination of GPT’s advanced language capabilities, the API’s flexibility and customisability, and its broad range of language-related functionalities, make it a truly revolutionary tool in artificial intelligence.”

Matt Hammond is a software architect and founder of Talk Think Do, which innovates, maintains and modifies cloud-native applications for businesses.

His company is part of Microsoft’s Open AI Service, which means it can access OpenAI models with added enterprise benefits.

He says: “While there are challenges in applying AI in real organisations, particularly due to compliance concerns, we see this as an exciting strategic push to use our expertise in building big complex systems which can integrate AI technology.”

“By partnering with a company like Microsoft, we can use additional features on top of OpenAI’s services, such as controlling the regions where data is held. This is crucial for businesses subject to GDPR.

“Additionally, the stronger security measures and access controls make it easier to identify users and filter out unwanted enquiries.”

The future of AI in financial management

Although it’s very early days when it comes to the enterprise, AI has the potential to play a significant role in the future of financial management.

Natural language processing

You could use natural language processing (NLP) to develop conversational interfaces that allow users to interact with financial data and make decisions based on insights generated by the model.

Employees could easily access and understand financial data, even if they don’t have a background in finance.

It may be that generative AI for finance comes in a different form than ChatGPT.

For instance, Bloomberg recently revealed work on a new AI model called BloombergGPT, specifically designed to take on NLP tasks within the financial industry.

The model was trained on a large dataset of English financial documents and validated on existing finance-specific NLP benchmarks, outperforming existing models of a similar size.

Predictive analytics

Machine learning algorithms are already used to analyse financial data and generate predictive insights.

You could train an AI model to predict future cash flows, identify potential risks and opportunities, and recommend strategies for optimising financial performance.

Mark Troester is the vice president of strategy at software development firm Progress.

With AI prediction, he says: “To deliver truly impactful business outcomes, you need to deploy machine learning capabilities that use data over time to iteratively train your models and improve the accuracy and quality of the output.

“Focus on deploying AI technology solutions that are insightful, actionable and valuable to you.”

Automation

AI can automate routine financial management tasks, such as data entry and reconciliation.

You can reduce the time and resources required for manual financial management tasks, allowing your finance team to focus on higher-value activities.

Dan Miller, EVP at Sage Intacct, tells Diginomica that finance teams in a time of non-stop volatility are consistently searching for tools to become more productive.

Very often, the answer is automation.

He says: “What finance teams want from us, through our partner ecosystem, as well as from our direct team, is counsel on what else they can do to be more efficient. They look to see how to squeeze more out of their work.

“If they’re not using planning today, how do they plan more effectively? If they are not using analytics in a big way, they’ll want more visibility. They want help, and that means further automation.”

Risk management

AI-powered algorithms can analyse financial data and identify patterns and anomalies.

You can flag unusual transaction types as potential fraud indicators, such as large cash withdrawals or wire transfers to unfamiliar accounts.

AI could also monitor employee behaviour, such as changes in spending patterns or excessive expense claims, which may indicate fraudulent activity.

Jimmy Wong says: “ChatGPT should be a valuable tool to help fight against cybercriminals who are also wielding it against the banking and finance industry.

“AI models are already implemented across many risk management software suites, generating fraud scores for users and their behaviour on domains, but this is a narrow scope compared to the security holes you could potentially plug.”

In financial management, Sage Intacct uses General Ledger Outlier Detection, advanced algorithms and machine learning that can automatically identify and flag unusual transactions within your financial data.

By analysing historical patterns and trends, this system helps streamline financial management and enhance accuracy, enabling finance teams to spot potential errors or anomalies easily.

As a result, you can maintain better financial control, improve audit readiness, and increase overall operational efficiency.

Dan Miller says: We’ve seen significant adoption of our general ledger outlier detection. We released some new capabilities into that, which can highlight many anomalies.

“Our account payable automation solution also went to general availability within our February 2023 release, which can pre-fill vendor information based on past behaviours.”

Personalisation

You could use AI to develop personalised financial management solutions tailored to individual business needs.

You could train an AI model to provide customised financial reports and dashboards to meet each business’s specific reporting demands.

Overall, the future possibilities of AI in financial management are exciting, with the potential to improve processes and provide CFOs with greater insights into their financial performance.

The importance of AI trust and ethics

With AI increasingly being used to automate financial processes and provide insights into financial data, trust is essential.

Financial decision-making can involve risk, and you must trust that the AI systems you use are making accurate and unbiased decisions based on reliable data.

You must also be able to trust that AI systems are secure and that you protect financial data from fraud or other malicious activities.

Building trust is critical to use AI in financial management effectively.

Dan Miller says of Sage’s treatment of data: “We very much believe that we are a trusted adviser, a trusted processor of our customers’ data. It’s not our data; it’s our customers’ data.

“We build technology to use that data for the customer’s benefit. That is a very different way of thinking than some of the sensational things you hear about in the media, where people are figuring out how they use data for their benefit, as opposed to how to use it for the customers’ benefit.

“How we’ve constructed the Sage Intacct license agreement is important. How do we protect data, anonymising the data when appropriate, when we’re looking at building models?

“Where it’s not anonymised because it’s specific, we’re looking at how we make sure that customers give us specific rights to be able to do that on their behalf, so they can see that benefit come to fruition.”

There are also ethical concerns that businesses must manage.

Paul Ronan says: “The issue with AI models like GPT is that they act as a ‘black box’, meaning it’s unclear why they make certain suggestions.

“This raises ethical concerns, especially when we can’t debug or reason about the conversation like we can with humans. Compliance and legal teams worry about using such models in frontline applications.”

Dr Kurt Rohloff, co-founder and CTO of Duality Technologies, warns that AI tools may not always provide fair responses, especially as generative AI’s responses and accuracy depend partly on the completeness and quality of data.

He says: “If there are any implicit biases in data collection fed to the generative AI systems, then these biases will propagate into the output of the generative AI systems.

“Unfortunately, data used in training AI systems is often lacking and low-quality for historically underrepresented minority groups, and generative AI might unintentionally reinforce historical, social biases.

“Part of the pursuit of responsible AI includes efforts to expand the diversity, fairness and completeness of the data that feed it, in a way that protects personal data privacy.”

Growing businesses need dedicated financial technology tools

While ChatGPT has its advantages, CFOs and businesses with complex financial needs will benefit more from dedicated and trusted financial management software now and in the future rather than unproven software.

Financial management software is specifically designed to handle complex financial transactions and provide advanced accounting functionalities that may not be available in a language model such as ChatGPT.

Here are a few reasons why dedicated financial management software is better suited for finance teams in growing businesses.

  • Customisation: It can be customised to meet the specific needs of a growing business, including industry-specific requirements and compliance regulations.
  • Integration: It can integrate with other business applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and payroll systems, allowing for a seamless data flow between departments.
  • Scalability: As businesses grow, they need a financial management system that can grow with them. Look for software that can scale your business and handle increased transaction volumes, number of users, and complex accounting requirements.
  • Security: Financial data is sensitive. Financial management software should have robust security measures in place, including encryption and data backup, to ensure the safety of financial data.
  • Reporting: You’ll want advanced reporting capabilities, allowing businesses to generate customised financial reports, track key performance indicators (KPIs), and make informed decisions based on real-time data.

Integrate AI holistically

AI and automation shouldn’t be limited to just one part of financial management. Use it throughout. This way, data and processes can work together more effectively, leading to better decision-making and overall efficiency.

The use of AI in the enterprise has steadily grown, but recent advancements have made it more accessible and powerful than ever before.

This accessibility has led to significant improvements in language processing and image generation, with development accelerating at an unprecedented rate.

We are now at an inflexion point where you might seriously consider using AI to achieve your goals.

As the AI landscape evolves, you can use these advancements to deliver high-value solutions to your customers. With increased accessibility and power, AI technology represents an exciting opportunity if you want to stay ahead of the curve.

Final thoughts on ChatGPT and generative AI

As CFOs navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of financial management, it’s critical to understand the potential benefits and limitations of AI-powered tools to make informed decisions about their implementation.

Using AI language models and dedicated financial management tools, CFOs can gain valuable insights into their financial data, streamline financial processes, and make more informed decisions.

However, it’s also important to recognise that AI-powered tools have limitations and must be used with other technologies and human expertise to achieve the best results.

With a clear understanding of AI-powered tools’ potential benefits and limitations, the finance function can head towards a more efficient, data-driven, and strategic future.