In an age of modern technology and innovation, we live in a world where almost all processes have been optimised to be as efficient as possible. The technology used by teams across all industries is rapidly evolving, streamlining work that was once deemed tedious and time-consuming, with too much room for inaccuracies and human error. That does not mean that some processes aren’t left behind, however.
For years, accounts payable teams and invoicing systems have arguably been left in the dust when it comes to adapting technology. Whilst other corners of accounting seem to constantly evolve, archaic and costly processes still plague many aspects of data entry and invoicing for these teams.
Enter Rossum. A new and innovative group that is here to disrupt the archaic invoicing ways of yesteryear. So what exactly is Rossum? How does it work? And how is it easing the lives of accounts payable teams across the globe? We sat down with CEO and founder Tomas Gogar to find out more about this cutting-edge solutions provider, and how it is here to transform accounts payable teams across the globe.
Rossum is an AI development with a mission to eradicate the tedious task of manual data entry that has plagued accounts payable teams for far too long. It offers clients an artificial intelligence engine which is packaged into a handy cloud-based solution, which can quickly localise and extract vital data and information, whilst fast tracking the “overwhelming” human input previously used in back office roles. The process inevitably avoids human error and time consumption. In fact, accounts payable specialists that use Rossum are five to ten times faster at processing invoices, for example. The benefits don’t end there, as the solution can dramatically cut costs. After all, it is estimated that every year, more than $180bn is spent on typing data from invoices alone.
“We are a purely cloud-based solution, and how we work is that we stand in between business partners – the sender and the receiver”, says Gogar. “The sender of the invoice will want to send it through the channel they prefer, and then our technology receives the data or invoice, and ensures the document is understood. Once extracted correctly, the receiver can input it into their own system.”
Explaining the technology, Gogar says that Rossum uses AI which reads documents in a way that imitates human behaviour. “If I give you an invoice, and ask you what the total amount is, you, as a human, don’t read the full document from the upper left to the bottom right, as you would a book. But this is exactly what old systems have been doing for 40 years.”
Rossum’s technology instead identifies the important data needed by the receiver. “The AI knows exactly where to start reading”, says Gogar. “It searches for an anchor, a fact or an important piece of data that will then navigate you to exactly what you have to read. It skims through the document, and analyses how and what is written, and localises it. This localisation gives us and our clients an enormous improvement in accuracy. The added bonus is a beautiful user interface which clearly presents all the results.”
Rossum stresses the importance of this automation being built on top of existing infrastructures, however. It works by connecting to the existing channels already in place at companies, and then automates the process from there. “We recognise that some businesses are not going to change their entire infrastructure just because there is a new process available”, says Gogar. “Let me use an example of self-driving cars – You don’t change every single road in order to make these cars work. You would have to disrupt an entire world of infrastructure. Instead, intelligent cars can work alongside existing infrastructure, and this is the approach we take.”
It was a personal experience of Gogar’s which would later pique his interest in transforming these technologies and work towards streamlining processes for businesses both large and small. “Growing up, my mother was a dentist, and as well as the practical aspect of her job, she was left with a mountain of paperwork at the end of each day”, he says. “After a long shift, she would have to sit down and then spend the evening sorting invoices, which was obviously not ideal.”
As a young boy, Gogar remembers sitting by his mother’s side, painstakingly reading the data from invoices to her, which she would then input into her own documents. It was recollections of this experience that later drew Gogar towards innovation in invoicing, inspiring him to bring some relief and change to those who handle invoices today.
“Essentially I took what was a small personal experience, and then used that memory later on, when, alongside my team, we decided to dig deeper into these issues, and explore the real problems faced by real people, such as my mother’s case growing up”, he says.
Drawing again on this experience, Gogar notes it is important to remember that small businesses, such as his mother’s are affected by archaic technologies and manual processes just as much as large corporations, and he was adamant that these businesses should also have access to optimisation solutions. “At the beginning of this journey, we knew the first thing we wanted to do was target invoicing”, he says. “How could we make this easier for businesses?”.
Gogar said that in order to dig deeper, and investigate exactly how he could transform accounts payable processes, he went out into the “real world”, and spoke with “real people and businesses to uncover the very real, current problems they were facing”. “From there started thinking about the ways to address this”, he says. “There was certainly a gap in the market.”
When asked if this gap surprised him, Gogar said: “To be perfectly honest, I’m not surprised that the technology for this has not existed yet. Until recently, many of us have very much been running on technology from the eighties. Looking around, we have seen so many programmes continue to run on old machines, with old-school software.”
“Only now are we seeing more businesses begin to embrace AI”, he says. “Some are yet to of course, but we really feel that this was the right time for us to enter the market”. He adds that some companies previously did “everything they could” to try and streamline their invoicing processes. “It wasn’t that they didn’t try”, says Gogar, “but they simply did not have the technology available to them”.
With this lack of technology, the biggest problem faced by accounts payable teams was both human error and the amount of communication needed between teams. “Invoicing itself is all about communication – it is not a simple matter of input”, says Gogar. “For example, you could have one person send over data, but if there is one mistake in that data, a whole new communication process has to begin to rectify this mistake. You need to find the right figures, then begin all over again. It can be an exhausting process.” Gogar concludes that there are “still many challenges” to overcome in invoicing. “To face these challenges, we need to understand that invoicing is a force of communication, and build on that.”
Rossum’s latest offerings include the launch of its new plug&play process integration platform. The platform is a low-code customization deployment that is located directly within Rossum’s cognitive data capture solution. According to the group, it is designed for users who “avoid touching their document processes because of fear of a long and costly customization IT project”. It uses a simple scripting code that can customise any document-based process in Rossum, and can be configured directly in Rossum’s app. It requires absolutely no deployment on either the user or integrator’s side, as Rossum provides the entire infrastructure for its process.
“That was a very important launch in the sense that, as with all businesses out there, every company inside is different”, says Gogar. “The question is, how do you deliver a solution that implements all the best practices, but at the same time, is flexible enough for each individual company to integrate it into their own internal systems?” It was this question that inspired the launch of this new platform. “Through this offering, we were looking to put a lot of focus on a solution that was extremely customisable and extendable.”
“The solution centres around what we call ‘custom functions’. Companies can buy this solution and get all the best processes and data capture technology that best suits their individual needs and infrastructure”, says Gogar. “After all, we always have people tell us: ‘our company is a little bit different than that company’, and what we say is that it is good to be different, and on top of that, here is our solution, and it can be adopted for you.”
Gogar compares the adaptable solution to iPhones. “I may have the same iPhone as someone else, for example, but undoubtedly mine will have different apps compared to the next person. We may both use it for calls, texts and the internet, but we have the ability to add functions to them, and tailor them to our own needs – and this is something we are so used to in the consumer sense.”
“If you look at businesses and accounts teams”, he says, “they too deserve the same level of customer care and experience. With our platform, for example, if you want to change the workflow, you can just download our extension. Accounting software is obviously extremely complex, but building this customisation, making it extendable, gives amazing opportunities to many, many people.”
Customers have responded well to the platform since its launch last November, with Gogar noting that its custom functions have proved particularly popular. “The response to it shows us just why the cloud-based, extendable solutions should come into the accounts payable space.”
And it seems that Rossum has entered the digital world at the perfect time. Amid the pandemic, businesses have increasingly looked at ways to save costs, optimise and embrace digital transformation in this sector. In light of this, Rossum has seen more companies look to accelerate their own optimisation. “Back in March, there were two weeks when everybody around the world was switching to remote-working, and you could see that the number of people interested in the solution went down dramatically. But after two weeks, when everybody was settled, it just rocketed – interest was even higher than before.”
Looking ahead, Gogar said that companies, CIOs and CFOs have realised that they need to have a modern technology backbone for their teams to survive the ongoing pandemic and future uncertainty. “Budgets for digital processes are also increasing”, he says, “so companies are going to invest more in technologies like ours.”
Indeed, Gogar predicts that the coming year will accelerate optimisation across accounts teams. “Everybody is preparing for a financial crisis in light of what has happened this year”, he says. “We know from history that companies start to optimise themselves ahead of potential crises. And in doing so, they don’t necessarily just think about the top line of their business – they start to think about the bottom line too. They think about all of their processes, all of their parts, and look at how to optimise that for their own benefit and survival.”
“Companies that are able to quickly recognise new challenges and deliver what customers need do come out top”, concludes Gogar. “So it is important for companies, including us, to be closer to the customers and listen to individual needs, because the needs companies had in 2019 are no longer the same. We aim to be close to our clients, work alongside them, and help renew their roadmap so they can navigate the year ahead.”