CFOs today play a critical role in their organization as strategic advisors in addition to overseeing the numbers — these leaders need to be data-driven and embrace strategies and technology that allow for more visibility across the organization and produce faster data for better decision making.
To keep up with these new expectations to provide relevant data and insights in a timely manner, CFOs need to keep on top of relevant trends and prioritize digital transformation projects.
1. Accelerate Cloud Adoption Across F&A
Moving to the cloud allows organizations to adopt a digital-first mindset. 90% of organizations already embrace cloud adoption and expect to exceed their usage, leaving organizations who have not embraced this foundational strategy at a serious disadvantage.¹
Looking ahead, CFOs need to accelerate cloud adoption and implement holistic solutions. Cloud-based providers’ expertise in handling large volumes of data means they can better ensure accessibility and data security than on-premises providers. By deploying cloud-based solutions, F&A teams will improve the speed, trust and predictive nature of their insights.
2. Enable Better Decision-Making with Real-Time Data
Accessing accurate data quickly allows CFOs to help organizations stay ahead of the competition. However, without automation in place, data is often isolated in different point solutions across an organization, making it cumbersome to collate. By leveraging a holistic Record to Report platform with dashboard views built in, organizations can gain real-time visibility to the data related to the close and reconciliation processes. Focusing on data accessibility removes obstacles and allows organizations to be more efficient in interpreting data and zeroing in on what may need extra attention.
According to Gartner, by 2023, augmented data management will also reduce the reliance on finance analysts for repetitive and routine data management tasks, freeing up to 20% of their time for collaboration, training and high-value analytics tasks.² Accountants have analytical mindsets, and leveraging automation allows them to refocus their time to higher level initiatives and strategic decision making. Automation frees up human capacity to focus on critical tasks like exceptions — that are often identified through automation.
3. Increase in Adoption of Advanced Technologies
One trend to watch for is the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) adoption, which can help guide organizations by providing improved agility and better data-backed decisions. Plenty of businesses have accelerated their adoption of AI and will continue to increase usage across the organization. According to a study by PwC, half of the companies surveyed accelerated their plans to adopt AI due to the crisis created by the pandemic, and 86% of companies surveyed indicate AI is becoming a form of their main technology usage this year.³
By expanding automation strategies with technologies such as machine learning and AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can be used for more complex activities, such as budgeting and forecasting. This will free up relevant staff to focus on the most impactful decision-support aspects of their jobs.
According to Deloitte, 95% of businesses that have implemented RPA indicated it has improved their productivity.⁴ Furthermore, 93% of businesses that have implemented RPA feel it’s helped their team improve compliance, and 77% believe it’s given better management information.
4. Hire, Retain and Develop Digital Skills in Finance
Digital skills are needed to support an always-on, technology-driven, real-time business. Because skill needs are changing so quickly, finance leaders need an “always on” skills-sensing ability to locate new skills and evaluate skills-development priorities. This enables finance to course-correct quickly and apply skills closer to the time of need.
While some companies are simply looking for candidates who can demonstrate how analysis is important to the finance function, CFOs are increasingly looking for candidates who demonstrate analytical and problem-solving skills.
In an EY survey of 769 finance leaders, 57% of respondents indicated building prescriptive and predictive analysis capability is crucial for their company’s longevity.⁵ Plus, their success as a CFO depends on hiring talent who have emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to maximize the potential of adopted technologies.⁶
5. Support the Enterprise with Digitization Initiatives
Collaborating closely with CIOs is essential for CFOs to shape and evolve their F&A teams into one that helps the overall organization by being more adaptable to business change. By working collaboratively to identify and implement essential technology, the organization is more effective compared to taking a siloed approach.
Supporting digital transformation and the ability to scale quickly is critical for CFOs as they look towards the future. Prioritizing the transportability of data without going over budget is key — driving this change should be one where the finance function data is no longer siloed.
CadencyDirect, the only native Built on Now® application for the ServiceNow® Platform that is designed specifically to address unique needs for finance, complements and extends financial operations management tasks so that CFOs and their teams can digitize workflows throughout the close process, reducing complexity and risk and providing a greater experience for the entire organization. Built on Trintech’s industry-leading technology, CadencyDirect provides a collaborative and connected system by leveraging robust financial controls and deep automation capabilities.
By embracing technology that offers the best solutions for platforms to speak and share data to one another, CFOs can ensure the long-term success of an organization. CFOs are considered not only as a finance leader, but as the data steward for their organization. When data is leveraged in an effective manner, these leaders will have key insights into their organization to ensure the most competitive and strategic business decisions can be made.
¹ Flexera. Cloud Computing Trends: 2021 State of the Cloud Report. March 15, 2021. https://www.flexera.com/blog/cloud/cloud-computing-trends-2021-state-of-the-cloud-report/
²Gartner. 4 Data & Analytics Trends CFOs Can’t Afford to Ignore. September 30, 2021. https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/4-data-analytics-trends-cfos-can-t-afford-to-ignore#:~:text=Augmented%20analytics%20techniques%20will%20automatically%20generate%2075%25%20of%20those%20stories.&text=By%202023%2C%20augmented%20data%20management,and%20high%2Dvalue%20analytics%20tasks
³ PwC. AI Predictions 2021. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/tech-effect/ai-analytics/ai-predictions.html
⁴ Deloitte. Robotic roll-outs reap results: 95% of organisations using RPA say the technology has improved productivity. October 10, 2018. https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/robotic-roll-outs-reap-results.html
⁵ EY. Is the future of finance new technology or new people? https://assets.ey.com/content/dam/ey-sites/ey-com/en_ca/topics/finance/ey-is-the-future-of-finance-new-technology-or-new-people.pdf
⁶ EY. DNA of the CFO: Is the future of finance new technology or new people? April 11, 2019. https://www.ey.com/en_us/consulting/is-the-future-of-finance-new-technology-or-new-people