Sunday, 30 September 2018 12:06

Redefining the future of finance means overcoming the barriers to innovation opportunities

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Problems are just obstacles to be overcome, but to truly redefine finance in your organisation, you need to redefine your approach to resilience, intelligence, leadership, and talent, in order to become more analytical and innovative.

The news comes forth from finance and HR enterprise cloud applications company, Workday, whose Global Corporate Finance Survey, dubbed "Finance Redefined" reveals that "efforts to digitally transform the finance function have not advanced enough".

The research shows that to reach its true potential, "finance needs to invest in the people and capabilities required to deliver strategic insight to drive decision making".

"Yet, the findings indicate that many corporate finance functions are unable to deliver this insight due to difficulty integrating finance and non-finance data, lack of relevant skills within finance teams, and ineffective collaboration among C-suite peers on data-driven decision making."

Betsy Bland, the vice-president of financial management corporate strategy at Workday, said: "The world of business is only getting more complex, dynamic, and competitive. The time is now for finance leaders to focus on redefining their function across several key areas to continue driving business growth and lead in the increasingly digital economy.

“This requires finance to invest in cultivating the right skills, bridging better connections to other leaders, and pushing the boundaries of technology to break down data silos and outpace the competition.”

In commenting on the research, Stephen Jack, Vice President of Workday Australia/New Zealand said: “In Australia and New Zealand, Workday is helping customers including Assurity Consulting in NZ, Salmat and Latitude Financial, redefine their approach to resilience, intelligence, leadership, and talent. We are providing these modern, forward-thinking CFOs with the tools they need to be more analytical and strategic and play a key role in transforming their businesses for the digital age.”

The corporate finance survey was done in partnership with Longitude Research and includes responses from more than 670 finance leaders across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, and South Africa. Key survey findings within the four areas of resilience, intelligence, leadership, and talent include:

Resilience

"Growing regulatory scrutiny and rapid technological change top finance leaders’ list of risks, with only 39% of finance leaders highly confident about managing risks.

"The study also shows that lack of meaningful data and systems-related issues are major barriers to improving risk management.

"In order to create more resilient finance functions, leaders must not only ensure they have the right systems and data management practices in place, but also a culture that prioritises data-driven risk analysis."

Intelligence:

"In a data-driven economy, advanced analytics is critical to the finance function’s ability to inform decision making; however, the survey found only 35% of corporate finance teams are making extensive use of advanced analytics in key finance areas such as planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

"The top challenge to doing more is integrating finance and non-finance data, which, because of system inefficiencies, requires teams to spend significant time aggregating and reconciling data.

"The research also shows that younger finance executives, ages 39 and below, say a culture focused on intuition – rather than data-driven decision making – is a top barrier to their organisation’s analytics ambitions.

"To move forward with data intelligence, finance leaders need to ensure their team plays a key stewardship role in managing enterprise data.

"This involves working closely with IT to transform systems by unlocking data that is confined to organisational silos and legacy systems."

Leadership

"While its understood collaboration is necessary, only about one-third of finance leaders enjoy seamless collaboration with key C-suite peers, including chief information officers and chief human resource officers.

"In fact, according to the survey, 74% of survey respondents say chief financial officers and CIOs need strong working relationships.

"Yet 68% note that CIO-CFO collaboration is limited because the executives don’t speak the same language – meaning terminology, jargon, and understanding priorities. To improve collaboration, CFOs need to put structures and processes in place, as well as shift attitudes to bring in C-suite peers early on into programs and projects."

Talent

"The face of finance talent is set to change radically, with 74% of survey respondents saying that finance roles will need to be redefined as a result of robotics and artificial intelligence.

"The survey also shows that a top barrier to driving finance transformation is a lack of relevant skills, with forward-looking finance leaders looking to expand their talent horizons beyond traditional finance roles to include data scientists and statisticians.

"To better prepare for tomorrow’s finance talent needs, CFOs must partner with CHROs to better understand what skills will be required in the long term."

Methodology

The study surveyed more than 670 global finance leaders to get their perspectives on the future of the finance function and finance leadership. More than one-third (38%) came from large organisations with more than US$1 billion annual revenues, with 35% between US$500 million and US$1 billion, and 27% between US$250 million and US$500 million.

More than one-third of respondents were CFOs, finance directors, or chief accounting officers/controllers. The remaining were drawn from senior finance roles, such as head of financial planning and analysis or vice-president of financial operations.

You can download a full copy of the detailed, 22-page survey here, after free registration.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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