Although spending was constrained in 2008 and 2009, corporate brass happily paid for anything that protected the bottom line and strengthened risk and liquidity management. Now the focus is on using automation to cut costs out of high-volume, work-intensive activities like accounts payable, accounts receivable and payments, reports Maggie Scarborough, managing director of FinServ Strategies in Baltimore. Companies want to streamline to the lowest cost possible. Subscribing to hosted or shared services has taken much of the cap out of capex, allowing automation without busting budgets, she notes.

The revolutionary move to software as a service is nearly complete, says Wolfgang Koester, CEO of Phoenix-based FiREapps. "It's always a factor in RFPs these days," he says. "Even fairly small companies can afford the best solutions. Implementations that used to take months occur in hours." Resistance has melted to third parties' hosting sensitive payments and cash management software. "It's become the preferred arrangement for virtually all treasury applications," says Jiro Okochi, CEO of Reval in New York City, which hosts hedging and hedge accounting software.

Business intelligence now defines the technology frontier. "Treasurers have the data," Koester says. "The challenge is to analyze it and use the analysis to reach better decisions." Treasury applications that were built to retrieve, store and display data are getting upgraded to analyze that data and even suggest decisions the data support.

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