The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just shut down large parts of the world and forced a significant number of employees to work from home – across industries and regions; it has become a significant accelerator for digital transformation.
In doing so, it is helping to overcome crucial challenges and crystallise a range of opportunities for financial professionals over the next two years.
Before COVID-19, complying with evolving legislation was the main concern that kept CFOs up at night. Now, they have the added challenge of ensuring compliance across a decentralised network, a hybrid workforce, and a larger area that is vulnerable to attack.
As COVID-19 continues to challenge and disrupt the business landscape, CFOs are stepping up to the plate and playing a more prominent role in digital transformation than they imagined doing earlier. In fact, many of them are driving the digital strategy within their businesses.
Senior financial decision-makers recognise that managing a remote workforce and leading the business through lockdown and social distancing has weighed on their minds for the greater part of 2020. All the trends that were at play before the pandemic – the move to the cloud, managing remote work, and getting on top of compliance – have only been accelerated.
Challenges such as changing stakeholder needs, using technology to modernise processes and managing risks around fraud remain the key concerns of the financial professionals. However, CFOs and decision-makers that had already invested in cloud-based technology and prioritised digital transformation prior to COVID-19, express confidence in the resilience of their businesses to survive the pandemic.
Growing through the crisis
CFOs today are nearly unanimous in agreeing that next-generation technology has been critical to their success. Several businesses have adopted emerging technologies in some form, and over half of these businesses are implementing advanced or cutting-edge innovation to get ahead of the curve.
Confidence in new technology is only growing, with most senior financial decision-makers registering direct productivity benefits, like automated compliance reporting and the ability to make real-time decisions around risks and opportunities. In not being bogged down by numbers, budgets, data integration, and reporting, CFOs can turn their focus towards changing stakeholder needs.
CFOs are increasingly looking to emerging technology to decrease risk and support them in building a finance function that can withstand future challenges. A sound business strategy matters during challenging times. And through smart technology investments, CFOs can play an even more impactful role in shaping business strategy and helping their organisations navigate uncertainty.
The next-generation of financial management solutions integrate emerging technology that is critical to the success of the finance function. They lead to direct productivity benefits, like automated compliance reporting and the ability to make real-time decisions around risks and opportunities as proof points.
What’s more, CFOs are confident that predictive technologies will change the way they operate at the board level. Emerging technology enables continuous audit results and automates period-end reporting and corporate audits, which reduce time to close in the process.
Also, emerging technology will continue to support CFOs in their roles and allow them to keep a finger on the pulse of their business.
Technology is taking finance in a new direction, and our research shows that senior financial decision-makers are going along for the ride – and enjoying it too.
By Jordaan Burger Financial Director for Sage Africa & Middle East