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Finance in a digital world: It’s crunch time for CFOs

A series on digital transformation in Finance

When you say the word reporting, binders full of spreadsheets, charts, and footnotes might come to mind. Or maybe conference rooms with executives grinding through slide presentations. And behind it all, there’s an army of Finance people who’ve been working for weeks to pull it all together. In the best of all worlds, external financial reporting and internal management reporting would be intelligent, interactive, and real time. This guide describes how digital tools like automation, advanced analytics, and machine learning are making reporting faster, more insightful, and less costly – and the lessons learned along the way.

Crunch time reports

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

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

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

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.

Advanced analytics

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

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

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

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.

Talent essentials for digital transformation

The growth of digital business is already reshaping the talent marketplace, far beyond finance. As organizations 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

Framing the future

Which path makes sense for you? What kind of roadmap will you need to realize the benefits of digital transformation? In the end, organizations 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.”

Contact

Kim Hendil Tegner

Partner

Ulf Hilton

Partner