Many treasurers would like to look into a crystal ball and see what the future will bring. The crystal ball, however, may not be necessary. In many ways, the future is already here, especially since real-time Enterprise Resource Planning and Treasury Management Systems, for example, are available and linked to the Internet.

These are but a few of the new technologies to come along that are pushing treasuries further and further away from paper-based, error-prone systems and closer to the peak operational efficiency treasurers seek.

How will these and other new technologies impact your business?

Web-Enabled Treasury Management Systems

Web-Enabled TMS allow multinational corporations to link treasury centers together and create stronger connections with their subsidiaries. Merging treasury centers into a single, central database gives treasurers the ability to analyze their entire group’s finances more quickly and accurately.

The single TMS database can segregate data across the corporation’s entities and groups, allowing subsidiaries to see their own financial information without letting them view or change any information that does not pertain to them.

This new technology also makes it possible to maintain a central, in-house banking structure even for companies with multiple treasuries. As a result, local subsidiaries can reduce their banking costs and manpower — and increase their forecasting accuracy.

eXtensible Markup Language (XML)

XML is a universal language used to format documents and data on the web. Its universal format allows treasurers to configure data in such a way that it can be exchanged between two dissimilar processing systems — an advantage that minimizes IT investment and provides significant savings.

XML also gives context to financial data, facilitates statistical reporting, and enables treasurers to create matrices that bring unprecedented depth to basic statistical analysis.

eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XRBL)

This web-based programming language provides a single standard for identifying and communicating the complex financial information in corporate business reports. By standardizing the way financial information is reported from every company, XRBL makes it easier for treasurers to prepare SEC filings, tax returns and other documents.

XRBL also permits the reliable exchange and extraction of financial information across all software formats and technologies, including the Internet — a benefit that treasurers with global subsidiaries will appreciate.

Single Sign-On

Treasurers who use multiple, web-based treasury systems need to repeatedly sign on to access each system. This convenient technology now allows treasurers to access multiple systems with one digital sign-on.

Electronic Bank Statements

As the demand for quicker and real-time information has grown, so has the popularity of electronic bank statements because they provide the instantaneous information corporate treasuries want. Electronic bank statements allow treasury departments to perform reconcilements, book closings and other financial activities faster than ever before.

Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP)

With the right technology investments and strategic planning resources, EBPP can automate a corporation’s entire billing process and save substantial time and money by minimizing human errors, maximizing accounts receivable efficiency, and eliminating printing and postage costs.

Online Event Notification

Financial institutions will notify treasurers about specific events, such as the arrival of a wire transfer or the approval of a letter of credit, rather than having treasurers call or stop in to check on the status of the transaction. This online technology offers treasurers greater convenience and the ability to devote more time to productive activities.

Check Imaging

Online or CD/ROM check image viewing used in conjunction with lockbox and disbursement services can speed up a company’s reconcilement and collection processes. It also provides immediate information access, while helping to eliminate paper and storage needs from the work environment. As a result, check imaging can enhance a company’s cash management capabilities, efficiency and cost savings.

Wireless Communications

Wireless communications allow anyone with a laptop or PDA outfitted with a wireless network card to access the Internet wirelessly as long as they’re within 300 feet of a so-called “hot spot.” Through the wireless network, users can view email, download email attachments, surf the web, watch a live webcast or listen to streaming audio. The convenient wireless devices have led financial institutions to explore the possibility of offering wireless access to treasury tools.

Unfortunately, wireless communications technology has not been perfected yet. Hot spots are relatively scarce to date and there is very little bandwidth available for wireless devices, so accessing information is slower than using a PC. However, as the technology improves, wireless communications will offer unlimited potential for mobility, remote access to information, and greater productivity from almost anywhere in the world.

This article appeared in Crain's Detroit Business, September 2003. (CO)

John Manzella
About The Author John Manzella [Full Bio]
John Manzella, founder of the, is a world-recognized speaker, author of several books, and a nationally syndicated columnist on global business, trade policy, labor, and economic trends. His latest book is Global America: Understanding Global and Economic Trends and How To Ensure Competitiveness.

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