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The role of finance chiefs is shifting to that of technology evangelists—those who identify growth opportunities for the organization and oversee investment strategies to unlock new business value.
Today’s modern finance function doesn’t resemble the classic, old finance function. Empowered by data insights and collaborative new ways of working, modern finance organizations are no longer content to focus on containing costs and keeping score.
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This research report, commissioned by Accenture and Oracle in collaboration with Longitude Research, confirms that finance organizations across the board are making clear progress toward adopting the following four tenets to develop new capabilities and transform the role of finance:
Modern chief financial officers (CFOs) are technology evangelists recognizing the value of digital technologies and new cloud-delivery mechanisms for standardizing and integrating key processes, reducing cost of ownership, and improving finance productivity and decision making.
Delivering actionable data insights and value to the rest of the business.
Acting as a service-oriented, strategic partner to the business.
Enabling maximum operational productivity and efficiency.
We conducted in-depth interviews with CFOs, finance executives and other professionals from leading companies. Our research includes responses from an online global survey of 975 senior finance executives and 300 line-of-business executives from the products, financial services, communications, media, technology, resources, health and public services sectors. All participating companies were large, with minimum annual revenues of US$250 million.
The objective was to assess the degree of technology enablement in the finance function versus other lines of business, and ascertain the views of C-suite and line-of-business executives on how well the finance function is delivering on its new mandate to provide strategic guidance and insights to the business.
Our research findings confirm that finance organizations across the board are making clear progress toward adopting the four tenets of modern finance:
Modern CFOs are seen as technology evangelists, but a gap remains between ambition and reality. Sixty-seven percent of the respondents say that finance understands the transformation opportunities provided by the latest technology trends. However, only 20 percent of C-suite executives believe that their finance functions have adopted leading-edge technologies to bring more business value.
Modern Finance delivers insight and value to the business. A key foundational element of a modern finance practice is ensuring up-to-date data within the business. According to research respondents, almost six in 10 finance functions have access to data that is no more than seven days old. And a majority (77 percent) of survey respondents say they have initiated or are part of a big-data project to some extent.
Modern Finance acts as a service-oriented strategic business partner. Most respondents (80 percent) judge finance to be “excellent” or “above average” in its ability to collaborate with the rest of the business. Large majorities both within and outside the finance function cite this as a strength (81 percent and 76 percent, respectively).
Modern Finance helps enable maximum operational productivity and efficiency. About seven in 10 (72 percent) of respondents believe technologies such as cloud, social and mobile will change the way they structure and run finance within their business.
Tomorrow’s finance function will need to put greater emphasis on taking a forward-looking approach to the rest of the business and driving the growth agenda through sharper insights from data. It must find new ways to collaborate with the rest of the organization as a strategic business partner, while taking a far more service-oriented approach in its efforts.
Many CFOs are making major strides toward creating a technology-enabled finance function, but it’s clear that much work lies ahead. Many companies still rely on outdated data for key decision making, and while there has been great progress in delivering analytics-driven insights to the business, this can be significantly improved.
Tomorrow’s finance function will have to be far more automated and efficient—one that leverages digital technologies, from mobile-enabled finance tools and leading-edge data analytics, to the smarter use of social media and the cloud.
March 18, 2014
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