We combed through websites, interviewed tech experts, and researched a host of product categories to assemble, once again, the roster of 20 companies that make up our annual “Tech Companies to Watch.” We uncovered a wide range of technologies and products that would be valuable to finance chiefs, and we also discovered a wealth of innovation going on in “traditional” finance-related tech categories.
The entirety of the list appears in the April/May 2018 edition of CFO magazine. We are revealing the first 10 companies on CFO.com, one per day. Our first six tech companies to watch were Pymetrics, Prattle, Tipalti, UiPath, Exabeam, and x.ai. Other tech companies on our “to watch” list appear below.
If you’ve never heard of Emagia, you have plenty of company.
For more than a decade, Emagia has been delivering order-to-cash automation platforms for global finance. Its flagship product, Enterprise Receivables Management Suite, automates the management of credit, receivables, collections, deductions, cash flow forecasting, cash application, and billing and payments for large global companies.
And the company’s Advanced Analytics for Receivables offering provides pre-packaged descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics for managing the credit-to-cash cycle and customer payment behavior. But that’s not why CFO is naming Emagia a tech company to watch for 2018.
Emagia says it aims to maximize the financial performance of its customers by driving efficiency and intelligence in finance operations through the use of new and emerging technologies. To wit, in 2018 Emagia introduced Gia, a digital finance assistant that leverages artificial intelligence.
Gia offers cognitive and human-like conversational AI and computational AI capabilities, along with continuously evolving job skills to perform specific tasks related to finance operations.
The software platform is designed to help finance executives, shared services teams, and operations staff by increasing efficiency and enhancing decision support in areas such as credit, order entry, receivables, payables, and treasury.
Finance chiefs, for example, can ask Gia for a report on the week’s total cash received in North America. Gia can also “provide quick information and perform repetitive tasks,” like providing an accounts receivable update on a large customer, and can send to or retrieve information from SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Teradata, and other systems.
Emagia has seen rapid growth both in customer base and revenue, according to Veena Gundavelli, founder and CEO. The company has expanded sales and distribution around the world with technology partners such as Conduent, Cognizant, TechM, NTTData, Trianz, and Solix.
One of the biggest challenges Emagia has is servicing fast-growing product deployments efficiently, Gundavelli says. To keep pace with growth the company continues to forge partnerships with global systems integrators.
Another challenge is finding and hiring people with AI skills at a time when demand for such talent exceeds the supply.
“To address this gap we have partnered with institutions such as U.C. Berkeley and top-class engineering institutes in India,” Gundavelli says. “We also have a strong upskilling program for our engineers.”
Finally, managing the hype surrounding AI can be difficult. Many mistakenly consider the technology a remedy for all business problems. “AI has to be trained on specific use cases and becomes better with time,” Gundavelli says. “Managing [the need for] instant gratification is a challenge.”
Emagia understands that it has to remain innovative in order to succeed.
It not only faces competition from other fintech companies, it also has Microsoft, Google, and Amazon nipping at its heels, as they are giving Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa, respectively, capabilities suited to businesses.
So far, though, Alexa can only perform general tasks such as setting appointment reminders, controlling conference room settings, or notifying IT of an equipment issue. Cortana’s use cases, too, are relatively simple.
But both organizations, as well as Google, are aiming to build an application ecosystem around their products.
Whether Emagia can take full advantage of its head start is an open question. Everyone in Emagia “is motivated by the fact that our [products] drive financial efficiency for our customers in their business operations,” Gundavelli says.
Other Tech Companies to Watch 2018