Chris Wade, Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Aptitude Software
In most cases, CFOs have watched as departments around them have taken steps – or leaps – into the digital world. Sales moved quickly to SaaS-based CRM solutions, manufacturing has embraced IOT technology to improve processes and decrease waste, and customer service teams use robotic processing automation (RPA) to more quickly and efficiently respond to enquiries and issues.
These moves have certainly brought improvements, but any digital transformation that leaves behind the finance department is incomplete. A finance department is typically hampered by siloed data, legacy systems, manual processes and backwards-looking reporting. This prevents it from leveraging the valuable data the finance function holds and limits its ability to provide the strategic foresight needed to empower and transform the business for success in this digital age.
The potential of a digital finance department
Investing in a digital finance transformation spurs business growth.
At a recent Gartner CFO event, the keynote, delivered by Mark Wiedemer, Gartner Group VP, talked about the unique makeup of what Gartner calls “economic growth companies”, or EGCs. Of the 1,200 organisations they studied, only 61 of them met all the criteria required to be classified as an EGC – short-term growth and margin increases, sustained long-term growth and efficient cost management.
One thing these organisations had in common was that they had, said Gartner, “become digitally relevant”. These organisations had a strong finance technology portfolio, financial data management, metrics and management reporting and finance analytics. This, in part, was allowing them to achieve growth that surpassed their peers, despite having the same external business pressures.
From governance to guidance
A finance department that is truly digital has a few identifiable traits.
Data is centralised, granular and accessible across the organisation. A trusted data foundation is available for use by cognitive tools such as machine learning and natural language processing. With data now unleashed for use by departments other than finance, its value grows.
A fully digitised finance function also has complete control over day-to-day and regulatory operations. It has systems that support a transparent view of data and data lineage and automated, real-time reporting. New business models, mergers or compliance demands can be addressed with agility.
Finally, digital finance departments have overcome the inertia and resistance to change that have plagued CFOs when it comes to cloud, and taken a strategic approach to implementing cloud solutions. The benefits of moving to the cloud are widely acknowledged, and cloud-native companies are leading the way in increased revenue, financial performance, improved business agility and enhanced customer experiences.
The time for finance
The promises of the digital age are not coming – they’re already here. CFOs and finance departments need to push their organisations to take advantage of every opportunity to evolve their data, systems, processes and people to support business growth.
For more on how Aptitude Software is creating a world of financial confidence, please click here.