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Why successful CFOs must adopt an exponential mindset

CFOs must be able to adopt an exponential mindset in order to identify, analyze and even predict the possibilities that enabling technologies bring to finance, their business and their entire industry.


The robots are coming, and they’ve brought friends

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the buzzword of the past few years. Right now Finance Shared Service Centers and Global Business Services are a primary focus when implementing RPA, but the possibilities of using robotics are rapidly extending beyond that. 

Examples of using enabling technologies for customer service, analysis, and data extraction

RPA is a step in the direction of reducing human involvement in rule based repetitive tasks, to better focus on exceptions and knowledge based work. The Finance Function is shifting towards investing more time and effort on strategic, value adding, insight driven activities, which help navigate the future of the business, rather than only report about the past. But what if we could automate some of those “human” activities, too? Could robots perform value adding activities in the finance function as well?

The next step in enabling technologies will be even more refined solutions able to tackle complex, cross functional and judgment based tasks. While many Finance leaders are still digesting the real world applications of robotics, and separating hype from reality, FinTech is already taking a leap to the next level.

Finance leadership has to become tech fluent in order to drive efficiency – but also effectiveness – in a rapidly developing solution’s landscape that includes not only robotics, but cognitive automation, Artificial Intelligence, and more.

Another example is Blockchain, a technological solution that has risen from obscure to world famous in a short time span, and has completely changed the way data can be exchanged, analyzed and stored. Blockchain was not immensely explored when it was dormant, and its vast potential was largely ignored. Now it is disrupting industries such as financial services, dominating the digital currency space. It’s a classic example of the way new technology has to be evaluated: not only for its current use, but mostly for its future potential.

Many other enabling tools such as Blockchain, Big Data, In-Memory computing and more, are developed and introduced to the market, quickly becoming mainstream. It’s truly a volatile time for the commercial environment in general and for (digital) finance in particular. In this sense, an exponential mindset is crucial for leaders. It is a mindset that is able to envision how elements in the environment will impact the future, taking into account their accelerated potential. 

In the illustration above we see that the forth industrial revolution has begun with robotics, but it certainly does not end there. In 10 years RPA will become a standard solution, joining the ranks of more traditional process transformation approaches such as outsourcing. But which new game changes will appear? And how will they impact the finance function, the finance professional, and the finance leader?

With technology growing exponentially, the business world cannot afford to think incrementally anymore, or it will always stay a step behind. Finance leaders must understand the most impactful elements in their environments by building an exponential mindset and quickly grasp current and future possibilities of new solutions, their risks and uses, before these new technologies disrupt their own business without notice.


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