“Consider what’s happening in finance. Complex legacy systems are being replaced by cloud-based platforms that allow entire enterprises to create up-to-the-minute reports that used to take weeks to prepare. Machine-learning and robotic systems that seem like science fiction now automate so much of the finance function. Finance teams spend 75% of their time on predictive analysis & decision support.”
1. Automated Accounting Operations
End-to-end processes are increasingly streamlined and automated. Machine learning and embedded controls improve efficiency, promote better risk management, and improve compliance. Together, these technologies help the finance function to become more efficient and agile.
Khozema Shipchandler, CFO of GE Digital says extremely automated services means, “ for the finance team is that they can spend all of their time on forward-leading activities like strategy, like making our products more competitive price or cost wise, helping the operating team win in the marketplace. So the whole nature of what a finance team tends to focus on is change.”
2. Provide decision support & performance management analysis
As we said in the beginning, the function of finance is shifting. Reporting and creating budgets off of past performance only is, well, in the past. Now the change focuses on analysis of potential strategies, while using the info of historic trends. Finance professionals will have a broader range of subject matter expertise as well as communication and leadership skills.
“Modern financial organizations work on cross-functional teams, providing complex data analysis and strategic recommendations to lines of business as well as company leadership. This partnership between finance & the business cascades the CFO’s influence. This helps to ensure that decisions are based on solid analysis of information from across the organization.”
3. Become Subject Matter Experts
The finance function has found a new strategy– “analytics expertise, as well as the opportunity to benefit from best practices by streamlining more traditional, transactional finance tasks into shared service centers. Today’s cloud-based technologies allow finance to study data from across the organization, identify patterns, and work closely with the business to develop strategies.”
4. Embrace Predictive Analytics
“Modern finance organizations are adept at using predictive analytics to generate new insights, but the financial planning and analytics (FP&A) team must be able to recognize whether financial and non-financial key performance indicators used across the business are achieving the company’s desired outcomes. Having the wrong KPIs can lead to “dysfunctional” behavior where performance targets are met yet critical areas like brand loyalty or user experience suffer.”
5. Focus on Team Management & Development
The current finance function is going to change again, and continue to change, mold and improve as our technologies do. Everyone that works in these areas should be constantly maintaining their subject matter expertise, revising how they work and developing new strategies in order to remain flexible while these changes happen.
“The most essential new talent will not be “finance” talent at all. Leading companies will hire statisticians, data scientists, behavioral scientists, economists and even anthropologists,” David Axson writes. “This brings new value to the finance profession as a whole, opening up exciting possibilities for tomorrow’s finance career.”
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