Automation is crucial for giving busy finance teams the space to develop the reporting insights that create transparency and trust.
Transforming the finance workforce
Adopting new technology also means thinking differently about the make-up of finance teams; 79% of the CFO respondents to the EY research say there is an urgent need for finance to recruit new skills.
In particular, the finance function will benefit from team members with new capabilities beyond traditional finance and accounting skills, including strategic awareness of new technologies such as AI and knowledge in disciplines such as data science and advanced statistics. AI is a particular priority; in the research, 72% of all finance leader respondents say that AI experts will be critical to driving innovation in finance and reporting over the next two years.
As a result, leading finance functions are auditing the existing capabilities of their teams to understand where the gaps are. This should include both the “hard” skills required to utilize new technologies and data, and “soft” interpersonal and strategic skills.
In addition to looking at the competencies required, finance leaders should also consider their future operating model. As their organization’s strategic priorities will likely change rapidly – finance and reporting should have the agility to change with them. Flexible models, such as managed services, are one way to address this. Tools and data allow finance teams to work collaboratively with external vendors more closely to deal with these challenges. About three-quarters of respondents say that managed services arrangements will be critical to meeting strategic priorities, with access to technology skills being a key driver for this approach.
However, driving a new approach can be difficult, with entrenched cultures and resistance to change acting as brakes on progress. To overcome this resistance and accelerate the changes that are expected in the finance workforce, organizations should become more creative about the people and skills they need, and to approach hiring, talent development and resourcing more innovatively. For example, 76% of respondents to the survey say that finance should widen its recruitment net to find people with nontraditional backgrounds.
A continuous process
Above all, creativity and innovation will be key as the digital transformation of finance continues over the coming years. New technology gives organizations a golden opportunity to use data to drive value-driven reporting, but they must be prepared to evolve and innovate if they are to achieve that goal.
In order to exploit the power of new technologies, finance leaders will strike a balance between improving existing reporting teams and recruiting for in-demand capabilities such as data science. And they should establish a continuous, dynamic approach to learning – in the digital world, skill sets have a shorter shelf-life. It’s important to recognize that digital transformation is not a finite process, but a continuum.
Finance teams today have access to more data than ever before. In order to harness the power of that data to create value-driven reporting, they should utilize the power of the latest technological advances and build trust in their data analytics. This digital transformation of reporting also necessitates finance leaders to think differently about the talent profiles and skill sets of the people they recruit for their teams.