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Image reads: How to prepare your finance department for the future of digitalisation

Digitalisation in the finance function

Just like the global challenges that have resulted in the acceleration of digitisation in the last two years, preparing your finance department for a digital-first future won’t be easy. Like any other drastic change or investment in your business, digitalisation is not a straight-forward journey.

Many businesses will find that they have to overcome several obstacles before they can even get started, with many more along the way.

We have addressed five pressing predictions for challenges to businesses’ digital transformation strategies in the coming years and how to overcome them. Read on to learn more.

Bridge the digital skill gap

Competency in digital skills is becoming more challenging for finance leaders to balance.

Younger employees often have a better grip on digital skills required to carry out their role but lack experience, while older employees struggle with the opposite.

Unfortunately, the widening skill gap within the finance function is relative to the pace of technological evolution, and finance leaders must consider how they recruit, develop, and retain employees to ensure that skill and experience are well balanced.

Where competency gaps are identified, finance leaders and other members of senior leadership teams need to provide opportunities for the gap to be narrowed, through additional training and courses, to in-house mentoring and skill-shares.

This, of course, must include any gaps identified by finance leaders within their own knowledge base.

To get the most out of their team and the employees of the wider business, and ensure a smooth digital transformation, finance leaders must invest in their people.


Adopt reporting as an ‘on-demand’ resource

A Gartner report states that “41% of decision makers wish management reports gave them information more relevant to their part of the business”.

As such, with the rise of digital transformation, and the adoption of new cloud-based systems, finance leaders must shift their focus to ensuring quality data.

Unlike on-premises financial management solutions, cloud-based systems harness AI and automation technologies to ensure data is always up-to-date and available to all users at all times.

With intuitive workflows and dashboards, finance leaders can segment data to create at-a-glance updates and even send tailored individual reports securely. With these advances, reporting is now a truly on-demand process, taking seconds or minutes rather than hours, if not days or even weeks, to produce reports.

Embrace the fourth era of ERP

According to Gartner, 65% of organisations will be using applications that encompass one or more of the business-enabling hallmarks of the new era of ERP by 2023.

The new era of ERP systems features software which offers core finance capabilities, automation, AI and so much more as standard, embedded features rather than as add-ons.

As a result, the way ERP systems can be used is more intuitive and growth-enabling than ever before. Finance leaders will be able to work closely with other senior leadership team members or division heads to streamline and optimise processes across the business.


Join the AI Revolution

Gartner’s research has found that just 2% of financial planning and analysis functions and 7% of shared services have adopted AI.

However, in the next 10 years, we can expect to see every aspect of the finance function transformed by AI and automation.

Investing in AI-ready tools, current, intuitive technology and providing and obtaining additional training required to bridge the gap in digital competency will bring a business into the modern world, updating the finance function and allowing for optimisation of processes.

Finance leaders must also remember that AI and automation are not exclusive to the finance function, but in integrating AI tools across the board, business-wide growth will be rapid.


Unlock growth through supplier management

Many finance leaders make the mistake of attempting to obtain new sources of growth for their business through traditional investment approaches. However, without an effective strategy for maintaining relationships with existing investors and suppliers, any new partnerships will fail.

To avoid a vicious circle of obtaining and replacing key stakeholders, finance leaders must consider improving their business’ supplier collaboration capabilities.

By dedicating a member of your team to supplier relations, or simply upgrading business software solutions to those that incorporate AI and automation, your business will be able to maintain existing relationships more efficiently.

Having access to all communication history, accounting and financial data and company insights in one place eliminates the excess hours spent searching through emails, documents, and spreadsheets to manage supplier accounts and allows you to build a solid foundation for your supplier relationships to thrive.

As a result, you will see your suppliers also providing you with greater priority in times of tight supply or capacity, faster problem solving, a more cost-efficient supply chain, fewer gaps in production schedules, and greater access to your suppliers’ ideas and innovations, ensuring you are always ahead of your competition.