As 2018 comes to a close, organisations are beginning to look to the year ahead. It's perhaps not surprising that many are planning to invest in technology. In fact, according to our latest Annual Trends Survey, 52% say technology is their business spending priority for next year. But what technology are we talking about here? And how will it impact the finance department? Here are six finance technology predictions for 2019.
The CFO that isn’t a ‘connected CFO’ will be lagging behind
It will no longer be acceptable for a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to fail to maximise the vast amount of data available at their fingertips to provide the rest of the business with meaningful and insightful data analysis.
Real-time integrated operational Key Performance Indicator (KPI) models (both the right measures and using the right technology) will ensure the CFO knows immediately if the business is on track and crucially will provide the insight required to rapidly adapt and change as necessary.
RPA will reach a tipping point in the finance department
CFOs and their teams will be first to fully embrace Robotic Process Automation (RPA), to minimise manual processes. Automation will become a workforce multiplier for the finance team – increasing valuable output and reducing time wasted on repetitive and low-skilled duties. The modern CFO will use the latest innovations to automate processes and free up time to work on business strategies - ensuring the organisation is lean, flexible and competitive.
Cloud computing will become commonplace to drive that real-time integrated KPI model
Innovative cloud-based systems will provide not only access to data from across the organisation, but also ensure the CFO can bring meaningful insights to board members, senior executives and other stakeholders; helping set the strategic CFO apart from the tactical CFO.
Big data will provide CFOs with a more in-depth picture of their customers and providers
Modern CFOs will be able to anticipate future needs, enabling the use of non-financial data for reporting and predicting potential future requirements, and ensuring the organisation is agile enough to respond. They will create honed forecast sensitivity models to scenario plan and ensure, worse case, any changes do not interrupt the ability to operate (cash flow / debt covenants etc).
A digital charged skills-based team will emerge
Although core skills remain largely unchanged, there will be an increasing premium on digital skills as the pace of change and volatility increases. The CFO of 2019 will be a digital pioneer, ensuring the entire finance team is reshaped – freed up from manual processes – to be retrained to focus on informing business decisions and strategy from financial insight. Enhanced commercial skills, to nimbly adapt business models to accommodate every increased pace of change, will also be shared to skill up finance teams.
The CFOs will move to the front-line
The CFO will act as a key adviser to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). There is an increasing need for CFOs to be an integral part of deal negotiations to meet both short and longer term goals. This is particularly true in transforming industries, such as IT organisations, where the shift from perpetual licencing to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) licencing has a huge impact on short to medium term company performance with deals spread over multiple years. This front-line role for the CFO will only increase in prominence.