CFOs reveal that people and technology should have a symbiotic relationship

During the 2021 Finance Indaba Conversations, CFOs revealed that people and technology should work together.

There is no doubt that technology has had a substantial impact on the way we do business. However, during the 2021 Finance Indaba Conversations, CFOs revealed that it was how they use the technology that was the important aspect of success for their organisations.

iOCO CFO Jo-Anne Pöhl said: “The future of finance is two things: how we deliver value, and what enables us to do so. Tech has given us an opportunity for enhancement, and people need to be really honest. It’s not a means to an end.”

Exxaro Resources FD Riaan Koppeschaar said that finance professionals are custodians of relevant information, and technological tools enable them to extract that information so they can share it more reliably and faster.

Webber Wentzel CFO Aneshree Naidoo explained that with “the right technology and setting up rules and roles in the system in a well thought out way”, information about the business will make compliance a lot easier for business too.

Similarly, Megan Pydigadu, the CFO of EOH, spoke on the transformative power of technology. She explained that since she joined the organisation, EOH has embraced technology quickly to address governance and compliance, which were massive issues at the company.

As an IT organisation they have leveraged off skills: “Technology became a strong enabler for us as a very complex group, and with it we have been able to get control and understanding of the internal workings of the company. We have been able to see red flags and weaknesses quicker, having automated things like the bid process.”

Anusha Ramraj, CFO at CCI South Africa, said that there are so many people worried about technology taking their jobs, but for the continent with the youngest workforce in the world, it will enable and not disable growth in the employment sector. “Bots, artificial intelligence and the use of data can help our employees provide a better service to the customers that they serve,” she said.

Besides assisting with mundane tasks, AI is also important for data collection for reports used by various stakeholders, said Amanda Ndlovu, vice president for finance at Renault South Africa. “The advantage of technology is its ability to create one version of the truth and to customise it, so it has what people need. Different people look at data differently, and because of that ,what happened in the past is that you ended up with siloed information.”