The future of the finance function

CFO, driver of digital transformation

As CFO you influence business decisions by providing information at the right time Technologies such as robotics, data analytics and machine learning make this possible and quickly bring the finance function of the future closer.

Finance transformation

Digitization is profoundly changing how organizations in every industry operate. The question isn’t whether you need to transform, it’s where you need to start. The starting point is different for every business, and if you want to face the future with confidence, you have to look beyond technology. The three main challenges facing a CFO and the financial function are process, performance and people.

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The future of finance is now

Responding effectively to technological and also organisational changes

CFOs need to be prepared and respond faster than ever before to support changing business requirements as much as possible. Doing so demands immediately available state-of-the-art knowhow and flexibility, as well as the courage to depart from the beaten track and explore new possibilities. CFOs have to acquire new knowledge and new skills – technical and digital – to enable their organisation to respond effectively to changes by means of process improvements and target operating models. In the work of the financial professional, transaction processing, for example, can be made infinitely more efficient by means of robotics, cloud ERP systems, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. But before the financial professional can get down to work with robotics, cloud computing, or data analytics – and before the new system can function and perform at its best – all the data and processes must be standardised.

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Distil meaningful information from vast amounts of data

Whereas in the past financial reporting and, increasingly, management reporting were important, CFOs nowadays have to extract as much information as possible from all that vast amount of data which they didn’t realise was meaningful. The great and almost magical promise of new technologies and raw computing power enables them to do things today that seemed impossible even just a few years ago. Enormously powerful analysis tools distil valuable, ready-to-use information from oceans of data, allowing the financial professional to be more forward-looking and specific in guiding management decisions.

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Build a team with the right skills for utilising the data and the technological developments in the best possible way

A lot of organisations are struggling with non-harmonised data and processes, often due to a lack of data ownership within the organisation. If there’s nobody who oversees the entire process, inconsistent data and processes will remain in place and the organisation will be unable to utilise advanced data analysis techniques. New technologies then remain just gimmicks, and don’t deliver what they’re supposed to. It’s therefore advisable to designate someone as responsible for streamlining data structures within the organisation. CFOs need to be able to put together a workforce that can keep up with the new developments. Unlike when the traditional bookkeeper used to play the leading role in financial work, the financial professional of the future will need many more people who can handle vast volumes of data, robotics, analytics, and blockchain so as to deploy them in the best possible way for the good of the company.

Read more about people

Future of Finance Podcast

In the Future of Finance podcast series, prominent finance professionals give their vision on the future of the financial function. Listen the podcasts now.

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At PwC we work together closely with 4 cloud-based technologies from our Alliance partners and are infused with best practices, accelerators and learnings gleaned from our experience leading clients to the transformation finish line.

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Alexander Staal

Alexander Staal

Partner, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)61 029 05 95

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