Finance in a digital world: It’s crunch time for CFOs.
A series on digital transformation in finance
Explore “Finance 2025,” the newest addition to our Crunch Time series, which offers several predictions about how finance organizations might evolve over the next several years, becoming better, faster, and probably less expensive. You can also examine specific digital disruptors and their impacts in our other Crunch Time reports. Whatever your interest, one thing is clear: From cloud computing and robotics to analytics, cognitive technologies, and blockchain, a new class of digital disruptors is transforming how the work of finance gets done.
- Crunch Time V: Finance 2025
- Additional crunch time reports
- Digital transformation - video
- Digital tools for CFOs
- Talent essentials for digital transformation
Crunch Time V: Finance 2025
Whether it’s phone apps, home automation, or cashless commerce, digital disruption is the new normal for consumers today. It’s changing what we do – and how we get things done – in countless ways.
What does this have to do with the future of Finance? Everything.
The technologies needed to reimagine Finance are here and will only get better. Plus, we can learn a lot from other business functions. Modern factories give us a glimpse of what automation can deliver. Smart contracts show us new ways of tracking assets. The lessons are out there, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can focus instead on adapting and adopting.
Additional Crunch Time reports
Crunch Time I: Finance in digital world
Deloitte's original point of view, Crunch time: Finance in a digital world—based on extensive research with finance executives, including in-depth interviews with CFOs of global businesses—explores the various digital disruptors and may be the quickest way to understand what's in store for finance organisations as they hurtle toward the future.
Crunch Time II: CFOs talk off the record
In the follow-up report, Crunch time II: CFOs talk off the record about finance in a digital world, 30 CFOs share their unfiltered thoughts and experiences around a broader discussion of finance and what it means to make the digital journey. Deloitte knows that one way to stay abreast of new developments is to join in focused conversations with other finance leaders, across multiple industries and geographies, so this is a good place to start.
Crunch Time III: The CFO’s guide to cognitive technology
"The CFO’s guide to cognitive technology" provides a collection of examples based on currently available technologies we’ve seen companies begin to test and adopt, in addition to our experience working with many finance organisations that are devoting more resources—financial and human—to deploying new technologies in these early days of cognitive.
"Blockchain for Finance" is a practical guide for finance organizations that want to understand options for blockchain and make effective decisions about moving forward. It features more than a dozen frequently asked questions finance teams can use to make sense of blockchain technology, as well as a high-level roadmap for adoption. It also includes a seven-point checklist for CFOs who are thinking about embarking on the blockchain journey.
No matter what future you see ahead for your finance organisation, one thing is sure. If business leaders around you are going to compete in the digital world, they will need to process more information more efficiently, and turn that information into deeper insights faster than ever. It will likely require new technology—and a group of people who are curious and skilled in using it.
Digital tools for CFOs
Some of the new digital tools available to finance focus specifically on updating core systems and existing capabilities. Other tools, "exponentials", are designed to deliver new and different capabilities. Together, they form a toolset finance can use to improve its own performance and serve the business more effectively, especially when they are used together.
Our research suggest that seven technologies have growing interaction and relevance for how the work of finance get done:
Cloud is a kind of computing that uses scalable, elastic technology to deliver services over the internet. Instead making large investments up front, finance can get the full stack of finance functionality “as-a-service,” delivered through public, private, or hybrid clouds.
Process robotics automates transaction processing and communication across multiple technology systems. Robots perform recurring processes just like humans, but with less risk of errors and fatigue.
Visualization refers to the innovative use of images and interactive technology to explore large, high-density data sets. Visualization suites complement business intelligence and analytics platforms, offering rich graphics, interactivity, and usability on par with leading consumer experiences.
Analytics has long been part of the finance arsenal, but new techniques are helping business people tackle the crunchy questions with insightful answers. Often that means combing through big data to see patterns that suggest future opportunities.
Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI) simulate human thinking. This technology includes machine learning, natural language processing, speech recognition, and computer vision.
In-memory computing refers to storing data in main memory to get faster response times. And because the data is compressed, storage requirements are reduced. The result? Speed and access to quantities of data that were previously unimaginable.
Blockchain is a digital distributed ledger, where transactions are verified and securely stored on a network of distributed and connected nodes, without a governing central authority.
"CFOs can leverage digital transformation tools to improve finance operations’ performance and provide better insight to the business—faster."
Talent essentials for digital transformation
The growth of digital business is already reshaping the talent marketplace, far beyond finance. As organisations seek to upgrade their workforces in all areas, they are placing a premium on people with relationship and analytical skills, who can also understand the business. Talent essentials for digital transformation includes:
- Leadership: A sharp view into the future and a clear roadmap for getting there
- Culture: Less predictability, more experimentation and innovation
- New skills: Technology savviness combined with business understanding
- Engagement: An opportunity to learn, grow, and innovate for digital natives or Millennials
“Digital transformation is fundamentally human-centric because it’s about imagining new ways of value creation. For that to happen, people have to be digital enablers as well as users of new digital capabilities.”
Framing the future
Which path makes sense for you? What kind of roadmap will you need to realise the benefits of digital transformation? In the end, organisations will need to chart their own courses. But no matter which future you envision, the leaders will likely be those who figure out how to make digital work for finance—and for the whole business, too.
“Not having a roadmap would be really dangerous these days because the pace of transformation is speeding up in every industry. Be on the lookout for quick wins and use them to validate your direction.”