By Jim Wong, CPA | December 17, 2014

This week, we have guest blogger, Mike Robinson, Practice Director of Brilliant™ Management Resources and Technology Staffing, taking over for ‘A Brilliant™ Blog — Check In With Jim’ to discuss how technology is changing the face of the finance function.

Just how impactful is technology when it comes to Finance?

We have seen a dramatic development in the finance function at our client companies over the past few years. Specifically, there is a significant correlation between the advancement in technologies these companies deploy and the subsequent changes.

In fact, recently hosted a webinar, The Digital CFO: How Advances in Technology are Reshaping the Role of Finance, which discussed how the emergence of various technologies like big data, cloud technologies and mobile capabilities, have greatly affected companies as a whole, and the finance function, specifically.

Below is a brief summary of the drivers, challenges, changes and opportunities that were discussed in the webinar. Based on our client observations at BRILLIANT, we believe the drivers, changes and opportunities are transforming the role of the finance function.

Market Drivers
Volatility in the global and local markets have created a new focus on the effectiveness of budgeting, forecasting and planning in today’s corporate finance functions. Trends in regulation, demographics and other globalizing events drive a new set of challenges for many businesses both large and small.

Market challenges have created more expectations for finance professionals to provide insight to diagnose business activity, understand the drivers and provide solutions.

Examples of such business challenges include:

  • Managing capital and cash
  • Prioritizing capital investment initiatives
  • Developing forecasts within acceptable degrees of accuracy
  • Keeping up with global changes with appropriate resources

Finance leaders are therefore expected to increase their levels of performance more than in years past. Characteristics of improved performance include being able to deliver planning, accounting and reporting that are better, globally focused, deliver information in multi-modal formats, create reporting and planning that is scalable to growth/contraction and flexibility to unique user requirements.

Current State of Performance
Recent surveys and studies have found that finance organizations are spending the greatest majority of their time gathering data and managing manual processes (spreadsheets) to develop and deliver reporting to their business users.

Enhancing Performance Through Technology
Companies are leveraging new technologies to automate processes for better decision making. While most are focusing on big data and analytics, others are focusing on cloud computing and mobile technologies to drive their function’s transformation.

Examples of goals using such technologies are:

  • Accessing data for all businesses, business units and functions within their company
  • Creating a full and detailed understanding of customer and product changes
  • Predictive analytics for accurate situational-based forecasts

Future State of Higher Performance
The real opportunity for incorporating new systems and technologies is higher performance within the finance function.

Characteristics of a high performance finance function include the ability to:

  • Limit time on data collection
  • Enhance time spent on performing analysis and interacting with decision makers
  • Create time for contributing to forward thinking and strategic initiatives

What are some other ways that technology is changing the face of the finance function? Comment below and let us know!

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