Technology, Media & Telecommunications
Providing automation tools to empower employees towards digital agility
Sirius XM Holdings Inc. is one of the leading audio entertainment companies in North America with programming, platforms for subscription and digital ad-supporting audio products that reach approximately 150 million listeners. Its family of platforms and services — including SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher — serve the largest digital audio audience across paid and free tiers in North America and offer various types of audio entertainment so there’s always something new and exciting for customers to discover.
While SiriusXM competes for listeners with other radio stations, streaming platforms and podcasts, it also goes head-to-head with the world’s top tech companies for talent and business opportunities. To move at the speed of emerging tech, SiriusXM wanted to empower every employee in its organization with the latest technology tools and targeted development to build the next generation accounting team. So, in 2019, the company set out to enhance its internal teams’ digital skills.
Company leaders already knew digital transformation was vital to the customer experience and recognized that upskilling their staff on the latest and greatest technologies — from robotics to data visualization tools — would help the company make better, faster business decisions.
With COVID-19 driving a shift to remote work, there was an even greater opportunity to provide value through technology. SiriusXM leadership knew this collective effort would empower each employee with an ability to improve various processes, a concept known as “citizen-led automation.”
Another area that needed the company’s attention and technology support was acquisitions, a key piece of its innovation and growth strategy. There have been many acquisitions throughout the years, including the purchase of digital radio company Pandora in 2019. And whenever SiriusXM brings a new company into the fold, it must quickly integrate data, people, systems and reporting without missing a beat.
SiriusXM leaders understand the value of being digitally advanced, so they employ digital transformation continuously to stay ahead of the curve and the competition. This approach also helps with talent acquisition and employee morale.
With these goals in mind, SiriusXM and PwC teamed up to improve the firm’s finance reporting and reconciliation process by using automation and analytics tools.
The SiriusXM and PwC team members knew that if they were going to move to a citizen-led automation approach, they would need a clear understanding of the data that could be accessed from around the company, along with a standardized process that lets teams access real-time data and help solve problems together.
To create this shared approach, PwC brought in specialists, such as a staffer with payroll experience, to work side-by-side with teams. PwC had just gone through a similar digital transformation journey. From experience, it knew the importance of using the right method to meet business needs and creating a system that was intuitive to all employees. Actively listening and playing each workflow and concept back to process owners provided clarity and helped enable success.
SiriusXM leaders understood that moving to a citizen-led automation model would require a complete mindset shift in how work is done. They also knew that this reimagination would need to be powered by momentum and excitement.
These executives knew how important it would be to bring all employees along on this digital journey, so they championed the effort and led the change-management charge — further ingraining this mindset shift into their company’s culture. Leadership was among the first SiriusXM employees to attend PwC’s Digital Academies, which offer courses designed to help organizations drive automation and analytics. As part of the courses, leaders and staff tackled hands-on exercises that featured the latest tools for robotics processes, data automation and visualization.
Working together, the SiriusXM and PwC teams automated formerly manual processes within payroll, accounting and shared services.
The SiriusXM team adopted the Alteryx data automation platform, pairing it with Tableau’s visualization and dashboarding capabilities. Alteryx is designed to bring advanced data analytics capabilities to users who don’t have a coding skillset. Instead of building bespoke reports from spreadsheets, it allows users to imagine new and useful ways that data can be captured and viewed to enable better real-time analysis. Tableau’s visual analytics platform helps users to better see and understand data.
This powerful combination of technology and automation allows employees to quickly access, manipulate, calculate, analyze and output data. Automating financial functions, such as payroll and earnings reports, can eliminate thousands of hours of work and reduce how long it takes to close the books each month. Dashboards are then able to help SiriusXM stay on top of opportunities and issues by providing a competitive edge: time.
Even payroll, which can seem straightforward, can benefit from automation. Given the range of taxes and regulations in various jurisdictions — especially as COVID-19 has forced many employees to work in remote locations — payroll benefits from better data flows.
At SiriusXM, this data is fed into new dashboards so finance teams can instantly view information such as subscriber metrics, key financials and tax data.
With these new skills, SiriusXM employees can continually build and improve workflows and dashboards to spot and solve problems spontaneously — without waiting for manual data aggregation or getting a helping hand from IT. This ability fuels the company’s passion and excitement over the citizen-led automation framework. Employees can now create new solutions using what they’ve learned, providing visibility and encouragement to the entire organization.
SiriusXM finance teams can now develop new analytics that draw insights from across the organization to solve complex problems. Automated, repeatable workflows cut 23,000+ hours that can be reallocated to higher-value strategy and analysis functions. For instance, closing the books each month now takes two days instead of three weeks, with monthly financial statements that were once stored in static reports now refreshed in interactive dashboards. Providing tech know-how coupled with new tools helps make employees more digitally agile, which means they can team up to solve problems as they arise and creatively find new efficiencies.
SiriusXM further expanded its digital mindset and built citizen-led automation into the culture, which continually spurs collaborative, technology-minded process improvements. With the tools and the technological know-how, everyone in the company can view solutions from every angle and determine whether they’re tackling finance functions or ironing out the processes involved in acquiring new companies.
Business use cases identified for automation across six business units
Reduction in the time required to reprocess information
Hours of potential automation opportunities allow people to use time for value-add tasks
Senior Vice President, Corporate Controller