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Finance must be part of a business' digital transformation

Jan. 18, 2022
As the digital transformation continues to evolve, companies need to evolve with it. Here are some ways CFOs can help lead the way to modern financial strategies.

Chief financial officers are not immune from the forces of disruption acting upon businesses of all types of industries, including trucking. They can—and should—play a key role in a company’s transformation, according to Ravi Ramakrishnan, of Alpha Solutions Advisors, speaking at a NationaLease meeting. However, CFOs will need to change the way they work if they are going to be valuable in making their company’s more agile.

According to Ramakrishnan, four areas present disruptions for CFOs:

  • Digital: 58% of CFOs surveyed said they need digital, smart technologies, and analytics in order to do their jobs.
  • Data: 57% believe that the delivery of data and advanced analytics will be the future job for their function.
  • Risk and uncertainty: 57% believe that risk management will be a core competency in the future.
  • Stakeholder scrutiny and regulation: 71% of CFOs say they will be increasingly responsible for the ethics of decision-making in support of their organization’s purpose.

Ramakrishnan also offered eight predictions for the finance function by 2025:

  1. Transactions will be touchless: Cloud-based ERP, automation, and robotic process automation will be pervasive. Cognitive innovation will radically simplify processes. Blockchain will come to the forefront. Finance will be leaner, but expectations around business partnering, reporting, planning, forecasting, and specialized finance will grow.  The capacity of humans to add value will be unleashed.
  2. Finance will double down on business insights and service: There will be more automated operations and quality insights will be expected. Exceptional customer service will evolve into full-fledged business service centers. Finance will need to enable learning and knowledge sharing across the organization. Finance will become the guardian of the company’s intellectual property.
  3. Finance goes real-time: Periodic reporting will no longer drive operations and decisions. Actual information and forecasts will be on-demand making traditional cycles less important. The distinction between operational and analytical data will disappear. The new mantra for leading organizations will be, “There is no close.”
  4. Periodic reporting will no longer drive operations and decisions: Future non-finance leaders will not need hand-holding when it comes to basic finance. Unfettered financial data will enable or empower them to be independent. Smart agents, if deployed, will be extremely useful in producing content-rich insights. There will be a move from spreadsheets to data visualization grids. Getting self-service right will be paramount.
  5. Robots and algorithms will join a more diverse workforce as new service delivery models emerge: Employees working from home, Gig workers, and freelancers will add value so knowledge and insights can be crowdsourced. Companies will rethink and reimagine how and where work gets done. Exceptional leadership skills will be the norm for navigating fast-paced changes. Finance-as-a-service will gain traction beyond mid-sized companies.
  6. Traditional ERP will be dead, and we will see the emergence of microservices: Look for things like automated operations, blockchain, plug-and-play microservices, etc. The cloud will be the norm to drastically reduce complexity and cost. Risk will increase so it will be extremely important to protect the company from cyber threats. Make sure to evaluate your risk management practices ensuring your organization is protected and is resilient for business continuity.
  7. When it comes to data—garbage in and garbage out: The proliferation of data exchange will drive data standardization, but it also will exacerbate data inconsistencies. There is no silver bullet for solving bad data; you need data governance. Many companies will be struggling to clean up their data messes.
  8. Regarding the workforce and the workplace, things have changed forever: Finance talent models are evolving quickly. There is a need for data scientists, business analysts and storytellers. There still is a need for accountants and tax and treasury people but they need to be connected with a new breed of storytellers. The goal is to elevate the value of finance in terms of communication, impact, and influence.

The digital transformation is underway in many parts of your business. Make sure the finance function is part of that transformation so it can help make your company more agile.

Jane Clark focuses on managing the member services operation at NationaLease as vice president of member services. She works to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups.

About the Author

Jane Clark | Senior VP of Operations

Jane Clark is Senior Vice President, Operations for NationaLease. Prior to joining NationaLease, Jane served as Area Vice President for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Companies, Pro Staff, and Manpower, Inc.

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