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From “debits and credits” to “bits and bytes”
Emerging business trends and forces are driving change within accounting and finance organizations. These changes are also enabling the controllership function to imagine a dramatically different future—a future in which “digital controllership” can harness innovation and technology to fundamentally transform the controllership role and add greater value to the organization.
The future of controllership is now
An organization’s controllership function (namely, functions with oversight from corporate controllers and chief accounting officers) is ultimately responsible for the integrity of the organization’s financial processes, systems, and delivery model. Once consigned to stewardship activities, such as “keeping score” by accounting for and reporting on what happened in the past, controllership is increasingly adopting a forward-looking role.
World-class controllership functions strategically leverage technology to:
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations
- Manage risk and control costs
- Help drive enterprise performance through value-added capabilities
These digital controllership functions recognize that data is currency and that “bits and bytes” are as much a part of the controllership’s DNA as “debits and credits.”
New and evolving financial accounting standards, global economic conditions, regulatory requirements, and merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activity are creating a dynamic business climate that challenges controllership to think and act strategically by leveraging information and insights that propel the overall success of the business. This evolution has driven line-of-business leaders to rely on controllership to be a catalyst that delivers efficient and effective processes and data-driven insights, while also being a strategist that identifies opportunities to drive performance.
Leveraging disruptive technologies
Disruptive technologies are helping controllership organizations fill technological white space while addressing issues and challenges not historically solved (or at least solved effectively) through automation.
Some quickly emerging disruptive technologies being introduced to controllership include:
- In-memory computing (digital core)—Finance enablement with a digital core is revolutionizing process design and reporting capabilities (see illustration below)
- Robotic process automation—“Taking the ‘robot’ out of the human” through elimination of mundane, repetitive, logic-driven tasks
- Cognitive computing—Teaching systems that “think” like humans can add a strategic element to risk-sensing and reporting capabilities
- Visual analytics—Rendering data in a consumable manner to help users discover new insights
- Mobile platforms—Enabling a more productive workforce through powerful mobility devices that free the user from the desk
- Blockchain—Emerging crypto-technology that underpins products like Bitcoin has the potential to fundamentally alter existing finance and accounting processes
From theory to function
Leading controllership organizations recognize that being tech-savvy is becoming a core competency and that the effective use of technology drives competitive advantage. That’s why controllership must understand and explore how disruptive technologies can be practically leveraged to achieve its goals.
Here are three takeaways for the digital controllership to consider when driving improvements through technology enablement:
- Requirements—Design the blueprint and structure a versatile team
- Risk—View risk as a strategic choice that can create and enhance value while informing strategic decision making and powering performance
- Return (on investment)—Enhance value through technology
Once consigned to stewardship activities, controllership is increasingly adopting a forward-looking role.
Digital controllership has arrived
Controllership’s role is evolving. Where it was once solely a steward and guardian of the financials and controls, it’s now adding value by providing insights that drive performance and inform strategy. As its role continues to change, controllership is in a unique and influential position to drive how technology and business intersect.
A digital controllership function harnesses technological capabilities in the market. This helps enable controllership to continuously improve its traditional focus on proficient accounting and reporting operations and effective regulatory compliance. It also allows controllership to provide insightful and strategic support from finance to the business.
Are you ready?
To learn more, read the full report, Digital controllership: From “debits and credits” to “bits and bytes” and visit our Center for Controllership.