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Digitisation has turned the finance function on its head

A heady mix of technological and social forces is changing the rules of business, forcing organisations to rethink and often reimagine how they survive and then thrive in this digital era.

Insights Kerry Agiasotis, Sage 06 September 2019
— 2 minute read

A recent study by Sage revealed that 93 per cent of financial decision-makers feel their role has significantly changed over the last five years. Over two-thirds of this group attribute this to the digitisation of the industry. This new landscape of fast-paced, digitally driven business is resulting in new problems that traditional approaches simply cannot address. These problems reach far beyond traditional concerns of continuously improving how work is done, to focusing on delivering outcomes for customers in the way they expect, which requires new insights and ways of operating.

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Regardless of the size of an organisation, customer expectations of how products and services are delivered are by far the biggest disruptor. As consumers, the highly interactive and engaging experiences that retailers and service providers are delivering through new and emerging technology are satisfying our increasing need for instantaneous gratification and personalisation. These new expectations are causing a massive shift in our expectations of the workplace, which are mostly unmet due to processes and legacy systems that cannot deliver the same levels of user experience and speed of outcomes.

While technological advancements have improved the ability to optimise internal business processes, the real muscle is in its ability to be integrated and co-ordinated across the entire ecosystem of a business. Whether it’s helping to deliver personalised products or services, engaging customers 24x7 globally, automatically detecting risk or fraud, or proactively identifying new growth opportunities, these technologies have the power to transform businesses. 

Today’s major challenge for businesses is, therefore, selecting the right technical foundation, which, when considering the integrated nature of customer interactions and financial transactions, is increasingly forcing finance teams into the spotlight. Though they may not entirely realise it, CFOs have a new mandate: to move beyond their traditional roles and lead companies into the new frontier. A frontier made up of seemingly endless possibilities, which are now made visible through the vast amounts of data made available by a newly connected and digitalised world. 

While today’s CFOs have been tasked with analysing the past, tomorrow’s CFO is expected to be a visionary, using and analysing data to predict the future direction of the organisation, uncover hidden opportunities and close information gaps. As the gatekeepers of data and analytics, the CFO of tomorrow will drive digital transformation throughout their business.

We’ve identified the top pain points for finance functions in their quest to grow and maintain a competitive advantage, including managing expectations around technology adoption demanded by millennials within their workplace and closing resourcing gaps in an industry which is increasingly data and insights-driven.

We also gauged the impact of digital transformation on small and mid-sized organisations, compounded by accelerated advances in cloud computing, big data management and artificial intelligence (AI), fostering further understanding of how the role of the CFO moves from “historian“ to “visionary”, while playing a larger role in leading the digitalisation of growing businesses.

Kerry Agiasotis, managing director and executive vice-president, Sage

Digitisation has turned the finance function on its head
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