A look back at the role of technology in finance

CFOs share their top tips on how to innovate, and be more effective and competitive.

Tangent SolutionsNiël Malan (pictured above) says any company planning a journey into the cloud needs to first bridge the gap between its technology and accounting departments. The CIO and the CFO rarely understand each other’s worlds, and the company as a whole becomes the loser.

Companies that have successfully become ‘digital first’ operations have achieved it because the innovations have been supported, or even driven by, the business and financial leaders, not the techies. Reaping the rich business benefits depends on the CFO becoming more technology-literate.

Read more: The CFO holds the key to a successful cloud migration

Eight elements a company needs to consider as it grows
Sage’s Pieter Bensch shared his top tips for growing companies. He points out that financial reporting is an area that gets more complex the larger a business gets.

Pieters says the things a company needs to consider as it grows include:

  1. The team. Getting it right starts with putting the right team in place.
  2. Auditing. It can also help build confidence among lenders, investors and other stakeholders.
  3. Driving productivity with analytics. It may well be worth investing in an analytics solution that can improve the organisation’s ability to gather, organise and analyse its data.
  4. Connecting and analysing financial and operational data through automation.
  5. Consolidating multiple entities. Consolidating data imports across multiple entities provides up-to-date information that will ensure forecasting and planning is accurate.
  6. Generating self-service reports. Technology is creating a new breed of trailblazing senior financial decision-makers who use data and emerging technology to drive their function.
  7. Making sense of an uncertain world. With analytics, a team can get to the correct data to build a quality picture of what’s happening in the organisation.
  8. Business reporting and complexity. Businesses need structure and conditions that push adaptability, learning and creative problem solving

Read more: Eight elements a company needs to consider as it grows in size

How technology enabled remote working
Future Advisory CEO Herman Singh says Covid-19 killed office work, but technology has become the knight in shining armour.

He adds that the current situation will be with us for a while, and we are going to see more work shifting going on. “Which means you must build a virtual organisation, on platforms and cloud. We are moving from centralised to decentralised environments,” he says.

The video conferencing app, Zoom, now has the same value as the top seven airlines combined because we are sending the work electronically rather than having people to do the work physically. He says this is a very stark transfer of value that dramatically demonstrates the key changes underway in reshaping the future.

Read more: Technology is reinventing the office

Get your organisation ready for AI-powered ERP
When speaking about how to get your organisation ready for AI-powered ERP, Oracle’s Swami Natarajan says machines and people need to work together for successful implementation of ERP systems and enterprises.

He says AI-driven ERP will empower workers with more insight into the challenges and opportunities of the business and give them the ability to innovate at speed. For many, it will completely change the nature of work for good. To survive, businesses should embrace the latest technologies and quickly.

Central to this will be a new generation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). However, crucially, companies should also bring their employees along with them. Machines and people, working in concert, will be critical to the success of tomorrow’s ERP systems and enterprises.

Read more: Surviving the technoshock: how to get your organisation ready for AI-powered ERP

Move core business processes to the cloud to successfully disrupt your organisation
If IT transformation is done right, the benefits can outweigh the disruption, says Swami. He says that no IT transformation is ever painless, yet when done correctly the benefits will likely quickly outweigh the disruption.

By moving its core business processes to the cloud, an organisation can face disruption head-on with the latest tools and technologies. It’s an emphatic way for a CFO to leave their mark and ensure the business is ready for the future.

Read more: Face disruption head-on: Move core business processes to the cloud

Transform business by unlocking the value that data holds
Decision Inc’s Kate McFarlane says without data, a company cannot grow. It is as much a part of the success of any organisation as the tools, processes, systems, and people required to develop products and services in a competitive market.

She says that AI and machine learning will make your reporting responsive to changing conditions. When this is done, reports become an invaluable asset that extends beyond simply ticking the financial boxes. Instead, these transform a business by not only enabling it to better understand its data, but also the value it has for success.

Read more: Transform you business by interrogating the value that your data holds