As part of the final ‘Digital CFO’ article with Reactive Technologies and PwC we discussed the key findings with each contributor.
Taking part in the discussion were Jens Madrian, CFO and CCO of Reactive Technologies; Brian Furness, Finance Global Consulting Leader at PwC in London; and Jamie Lyon of ACCA.
In our articles we have talked about the importance of business strategy in setting the direction of finance, how should the CFO and their team align to ensure that their strategic goals, including the technology implications, are fully aligned to those of the organisation overall?
There is only one strategy which is the business strategy - and from that finance needs to develop two elements. How can finance support that business strategy indirectly and directly within finance? A lot of finance institutions and finance departments have been dealing, in particular, with the finance strategy in itself. So have introducing robotics, artificial intelligence and their processes speeded up through cloud-based processes and an end? I think where organisations overall need to step up on is the link towards the business strategy. So how can finance equally support and challenge the underlying business to meet its challenges dealing with the digitalisation in the wider world? Because that's just not a cost question only, it also drives the influence on the revenue line.
What are the implications on the skills of the finance team from this advancement in technology?
This is not a pure technology play when you look at the opportunity – and it is opportunity – for the finance organisations we're moving forward. You are not going to achieve the ambitions you want out of finance unless you've got access to the right capability and the right skill. So there's a real paradigm shift in terms of capability that’s needed here. I'd certainly pull out things like data and analytics – analytics probably is one of the biggest prices that are sitting on the table in terms of the opportunity for finance going forward. And a lot of that is around the optimisation of data and some of the opportunities in terms of future insight.
What do you think is the role of finance in growing and creating competitive advantage - the theme of our fifth article? How can they be successful?
We often start from a position of 'what can we do to change what we have today?' I think there needs to be a little bit more free thinking, and this is why I've mentioned the vision of the future of three or five years. If you set that out you can ask yourself the questions of 'why can’t we do something?', 'why isn’t it possible?' That is a much more positive way of looking at things rather than 'what can we do today?', which tends to involve you in tweaking the model and making fine tuning and changes that have impact but maybe not as much impact as if you reimagine the problem.
Read the full article
This article is part of our Digital CFO series developed in collaboration with PwC and Jens Madrian, CFO Reactive Technologies.