- Financial services firm Stripe announced updates to its financial automation suite of products which include new tax and revenue reporting tools, the company announced Tuesday. The product improvements come as finance leaders continue to look to new technologies to provide key insights and reduce inefficiencies.
- The San Francisco, California and Dublin, Ireland-based company’s updated financial automation suite includes its new Tax API solution, which helps to automate sales tax calculations for customers, as well as a revenue reporting tool released in beta form with the aim of increasing efficiency and allowing support for revenue growth, according to the company.
- Today’s finance leaders expect their technologies to increase efficiency but also want more than that, according to Vivek Sharma, Stripe’s head of revenue and finance automation. “It’s really about, ‘Yeah, I get it, make it efficient. But please graduate the conversation to revenue generation,’” Sharma said in an interview.
CFOs are a critical part of the conversation when it comes to integrating new and emerging tools, Sharma said — they are at the table “when new business models are being created, or legacy ones are being modernized,” he said.
Granting CFOs the tools they need to keep track of their financial data is critical, as “asking the CFO to just be the humans that have to make sense of everything” is the wrong approach, Sharma said. “What we have to do is to take efficiency and just bake it into the product with automation.”
Stripe is seeking to “actually up level the CFO conversations to something that they really desire,” Sharma said, speaking of the focus on revenue generation. Its suite of products aim to make it easier for finance leaders to gain access to the key insights they need for such a focus, such as which customers may be more likely to purchase again, how a particular business model is working or the acceptance rate of a new feature, he said.
“These are things that finance teams are actually very well poised to answer, but they never really had the ability to take efficiency off the table with automation, so they never even got to this point,” Sharma said. “And so what we're seeing is increasing demand for the insights that come from revenue reporting.”
Bringing in these new technologies is “not just about efficiency, automatic calculations” for CFOs, he said, but the critical focus is on the insights the new tools are able to glean.
The emphasis on transparent and revenue-aiding data comes as more financial leaders take a closer look at their technology needs. However, while digital transformation remains a key priority for CFOs and their fellows in the C-suite — with executives captivated by the potential of emerging technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence — many are still using familiar, standard tools such as Excel to complete their day-to-day tasks.
This reliance on manual tools can cost CFOs and finance employees money and time; 56% of businesses say they spend at least 10 hours monthly going over manual errors in order to reconcile their data, according to data from a Stripe survey of more than 1,500 finance leaders. Another 35% of businesses say they have to re-open their books or restate their earnings at least once a quarter, Stripe said.
“I think one of the unfortunate things that has held us back as an industry is everything is rip and replace,” Sharma said speaking of companies’ perception that they need to overhaul their systems or processes as part of their reluctance to move forward. “It’s like, ‘Oh, well, in order to improve your back office, you have to rip up and replace all of your back office.’ That's not the tack that we're taking here.”