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Tax leaders share challenges and lessons learned on data and technology

Tax leaders from some of the world’s largest brands discuss challenges and lessons learned on data and technology in a Transformative Age.


In brief
  • Chief tax executives from some of the world’s largest brands joined a virtual roundtable to talk challenges and lessons learned around data and technology.
  • Takeaways covered everything from harnessing data and breaking down silos, to facilitating learning and ensuring they have the right talent, to measuring ROI.

In today's fast-paced business landscape, organizations are embracing data and technology transformations as ongoing journeys of reinvention and innovation. At the forefront of this evolution are tax leaders who play a pivotal role as internal change agents and advocates for their functions. They are tasked with meeting the ever-evolving demands within their organizations and from tax authorities, all while navigating rising expectations and tightening budgets. In a virtual roundtable hosted by the EY Center for Executive Leadership, a group of chief tax executives from some of the world’s largest brands, along with EY technology veteran Randy Mott, explored the challenges and lessons learned in this transformative era.

Expand access to detailed data

 

Access to granular, current data is the linchpin of informed decision-making and adaptive strategies. Randy Mott emphasized the importance of having the lowest level of detail in data and making it accessible to as many decision-makers as possible. While stewardship of data is essential, the emphasis should be on providing data to decision-makers rather than hoarding it. Mott's experience showed that using all available data, within limits, is more efficient and insightful. Encourage your team to challenge existing norms to foster a new data-centric mindset and highlight success stories during regular meetings to reinforce this mindset.

 

Start now, don’t wait for perfection

Waiting for every detail to be known can result in perpetual delay. While planning is crucial, it's equally important to take action by collecting data, making it available, and utilizing it. Mott emphasized that there will always be improvements in transactional systems and technology platforms, but these should not hinder the pursuit of valuable data, analytics and insights.

 

Break down silos and foster cross-functional learning

 

Tax departments face staffing challenges in bridging the gap between data analysts and tax professionals, forming teams that unite technological expertise with tax knowledge, and equipping tax teams with essential tech skills. Randy Mott recommended creating a core team of specialists and upskilling as many individuals as possible to augment their capabilities. Empower your team members to become champions with multidisciplinary skills.

 

Key themes from the chief tax executives:

  • Finding and building tax technology talent requires creativity and adaptability. The cohort of chief tax executives discussed diverse approaches, including hiring tax professionals and providing intensive technology training, as well as hiring technologists and training them in tax basics. The consensus was clear: a combination of both approaches is necessary to assemble teams with diverse skill sets. Flexibility in talent sourcing was emphasized, acknowledging that the perfect candidate may not always be readily available.

Summary 

In this Transformative Age, tax leaders must forge a path through the evolving digital landscape by harnessing data, breaking down silos and facilitating cross-functional learning. They must also attract the right talent, instill a transformation mindset, and measure ROI to drive continued success.

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