Microsoft CFOs reveal the pillars of modern finance

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CFOs advised Finance Indaba delegates on the importance of digitisation in modern finance.

Microsoft’s CFO, Welela Dawit, and senior finance manager, Stefan van Heerden, advised financial leaders at the Finance Indaba to embrace digital transformation through the Microsoft digitisation platform

Welela said it was important for companies to survive. “Digital transformation is a necessity to survive, not just nice to have,” she said. She added that companies have to work hard to be relevant in the future and digital transformation ensured that they remained relevant in the fast-changing world.

She mentioned that digital transformation forced perseverance, which taught companies to be resilient, ensuring a future for the company. “Digital transformation [helps businesses] to get more speed, more productivity, and more time to do what matters most by maximising the value of your investment with technology that does more,” she said.

She added that getting transformed had the capability to improve time to value and reduce costs, and that a transformed system increases agility with an open extensible cloud.

Welela, however, said that companies should brace themselves for financial challenges that could come with transformation. She said that not having adequate tools to anticipate growing business complexities can cause large financial outlays. She added that surging data, legacy systems and static reporting has a heavy impact on a company's planning and finances.

Adding to that, she said, manual inefficiencies lead to error prone processes, which also delay company profits. “Manual, inefficient, error-prone processes, increasing regulations and instant changes cause risks and threats to the company,” she said.

Weighing in on the challenges, Stefan advised that the area of focus for companies should be financial analysis reporting, security and forecasting, business process and automation, risk management and compliance.

He added that forecast accuracy is better than the traditional bottoms-up process. He also mentioned that remote working and juggling the new normal of remote work requires tools that support the business while away from the office.

Stefan said that the steps needed to start the process for digitisation through Microsoft were to meet with the Microsoft team to help the company integrate into the digital transformation.

He said the company should also leverage their Microsoft account team and help the team through the transition. He added that they should also direct their staff through the transitioning process that the company is going through and finally develop and implement the plan of the company on the Microsoft account.

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