With disruption in almost every industry, finance leaders recognize that they need to move the finance function out of the back office and into a proactive, forward-looking, predictive function powered by intelligent insights.

This shift is taking place where business leaders realize that the finance function needs to operate as strategic value-creation partners with the business. Accenture’s ongoing research into the transforming role of CFOs shows that, already, 81 percent of CFOs are focused on identifying areas of new business value as one of their key responsibilities. And 77 percent believe it is in their remit to drive business-wide transformation.

As CFOs face the effects of globalization, digital and the rapid pace of change, a new paradigm is taking hold to develop competitive business advantage through finance capabilities. We know there’s a 70 percent correlation between digitizing finance and overall finance effectiveness and crucially, how digitization happens makes a big difference. Our review of five finance processes—record to report, accounts payable, order to cash, tax, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A)—shows that organizations digitizing the most in FP&A achieve the most effectiveness gains. Their financial effectiveness is 50 percent higher than peers that only digitize accounting and finance operations.

But how do businesses transform their organizations to realize these efficiency gains? The journey to the new digital finance organization begins with an intelligent platform.

Three imperatives for finance leaders to capture effectiveness gains:

Build a digital finance core

Improve the speed and reliability of financial statements with a new core finance platform. See savings by reducing manual processing and accelerate reporting with digitization and automation.

Become an analytics powerhouse

As an analytics powerhouse, finance can move from backward-looking reporting to intelligent forecasting, providing competitive advantages, and identifying risks and opportunities for business growth.

Transform the finance workforce

By harnessing analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), the finance workforce can move from today’s focus on accounting and controlling to supporting the business as key advisors.

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The journey to digital finance begins with an intelligent platform

Finance’s evolution from backward-looking reporting to strategic business partner and value architect is well underway. We’re seeing more and more verticalized capabilities that are designed to enable intelligent finance operations. But to realize their enormous potential for innovation, finance organizations need to take advantage of an integrated platform-based landscape, with vertical functionalities and a data-centric approach.

A digital core integrated with smart machines and robotics can help finance functions eradicate manual transactions and deploy machine learning to manage complex accounting processes. Smart financial reporting supports self-service analytics on real-time data that is available anywhere and at any time, on any device. Proactive planning and forecasting harnesses AI to anticipate the value of business decisions and predict and simulate financial outcomes. And accelerated closing enables daily period-end processes, a real time view of P&L and hence the ability to dramatically accelerate and improve decision-making.

Finance has a unique opportunity to unleash the power of digital to drive very significant business outcomes.

Getting started: Time for a different approach

How should finance leaders move forward and accelerate their journey to the intelligent enterprise?

  • Have a clear vision: Shows the way ahead from thinking to doing (and measuring achievements along the way).
  • Develop a roadmap: The success of a transformation hinges on following a roadmap with predefined targets and outcomes, connecting strategy, business objectives, operating model, processes and workforce to the enabling platform technology.
  • Master digital capabilities: Like IoT, data driven insights and business process automation.
  • Possess industry and functional expertise: Deep industry and functional expertise are essential to design and guide the transformation.
  • Create a fit for purpose solution: Meeting the finance function wherever it is along its domain, industry and technology journey.

Scott Uelner

Managing Director, Lead – Finance & Performance Management, North America

Dihan Fernando

Managing Director – CFO & Enterprise Value


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