Finance function failing to fully exploit technology, according to ACCA report | ACCA Global
ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
The problem is not necessarily that technology isn’t available, but there are many reasons why finance has not yet reached tech nirvana.
—Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector, ACCA

Superior technology could enhance function’s role in the business

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and the finance organisations they lead have yet to fully exploit emerging technologies to better support the business, says a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). 

The report, Is finance function technology delivering on its promise?, which gauged in-depth views from finance executives across a spectrum of businesses, including Shell, Aviva, Kimberly-Clark, Deloitte, Accenture and others, suggests the finance organisation is not using technology to its full potential and, in turn, could be missing out on bringing more value to the enterprise. 

Jamie Lyon, Head of Corporate Sector at ACCA, said: 'The problem is not necessarily that technology isn’t available, but there are many reasons why finance has not yet reached tech nirvana. The reality is for most finance functions the technology landscape is still complex and fragmented with multiple ERP, continuing work-arounds and bolt on applications. But this report suggests there are bigger issues too. It is about behaviours, vision and culture in the finance function to go that step further and really push for technological change.'

He adds: 'Of course it isn’t true to say that finance technology has been standing still for the past 10 years. Leading companies have deployed technology to improve finance service delivery to the business, but the primary focus has really been around cost, efficiency and quality in transactional finance, and driving standardisation and improving controls. 

'However, concepts such as self-service finance, or eliminating the need for people in transactional finance processes through greater technology deployment, continue to prove elusive. We’d also question whether there is a greater opportunity for business process outsourcers to bring more finance technology innovation to bear.'

The report suggests the real opportunity CFOs have is to champion the adoption of transformative technology and predictive capability tools to support decision making. However, for all the aspirations that finance may have around the value and insight agenda, this remains a work in progress for most. 

Deborah Kops, principal at Sourcing Change and co-author of the report, said: 'Finance can, through technology, eliminate its preoccupation with processes. Harnessing technologies that mine data for patterns means the function can become a game changer for business. Finance leaders have tended to rely on their technology colleagues rather than members of their own teams to plan their technology ‘roadmaps’. 

'The Chief Information Officer’s team is either consumed with implementing the latest version of ERP, or with identifying and installing the newest customer-facing social and mobile technology that isn’t really touching finance. This means the technology needs for finance get little attention when it could transform the function for the better. 

'We should also acknowledge that the application of technology has the potential to change further what a finance career means. If technology increasingly automates transactional finance and is also able to mine insights at the same time, it will change what it means to be a finance professional as well as the capabilities needed.'

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For more information, please contact:

Steve Rudaini, ACCA Newsroom

+ 44 (0) 207 059 5622

+44 (0) 7801 133985

steve.rudaini@accaglobal.com  

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 
  2. We support our 162,000 members and 428,000 students in 173 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 89 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence. 
  3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.