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The CFO Agenda Session Recap: Digitalization – The Rise of a New Era of Change

Thursday, July 15, 2021

5 minute read

The CFO Agenda Session Recap Digitalization

Basware’s Paul Taylor and three other leaders discussed the role of digitalization and how it’s prompted a new era of business in the CFO Agenda’s digital event. Here are the key takeaways from their discussion about the new era of Finance.

 

Digitalization can no longer be ignored

One recurring concept discussed in this session was the idea that digital transformation has proven to be and will continue to be a vital part of business. COVID highlighted a lot of things, but most importantly it accelerated the need for businesses to quickly digitize their processes and get their operations remote-capable. Everyone agreed that when COVID first hit, it would’ve been helpful to have quicker tools, cloud sharing, easy ways to access files and tools remotely, and real-time data.

In the discussion, all business execs agreed that after going digital, they found that digital transformation was more than just a change to operations, it provided wider benefits to their companies. And though going digital provides efficiency, they found that it also led to business resilience and happier teams. Automation gave employees more time to work on business value activities instead of manual tasks which in turn gave them a deeper sense of value as they could focus their energy on more strategic initiatives.

A key takeaway was the importance of not only implementing digital processes but also focus on the finance department of the future and emphasize skilling up your workforce to use these new digital technologies as these technologies become part of the new normal.

Digital is great but what’s the best way to implement it?

After covering the benefits of digitalization, the conversation turned to the best ways to implement new technologies and what they felt were the best takeaways they’ve realized so far since implementation.

The first step in your digital transformation journey is to identify the need. Those mundane tasks that employees are doing day-in and day-out such as invoicing or reporting and any other manual, repetitive task. Once you’ve identified where digitization and automation could come in handy, the next step is vetting vendors and see which one simplifies these mundane tasks and can successfully process with minimal to no human interference or involvement. Here, it’s vital to not just holistically digitize the business for the sake of being digital but to instead ensure you are addressing specific needs. This will simplify your digital transformation journey and give it a higher chance of adoption and success. Ultimately, create a vision, create your roadmap, and understand change can happen.

It’s also important to go with a vendor who can collect all your financial data – 100%, not just some of it. Data is the foundation of your automated solutions and for bringing more value-oriented tasks to your team. For instance, a lot of Finance teams are tasked with reporting. But that data can take a long time to collaborate and make sense of. With digital tools that function based on your data, it’s easy to automate and analyze reporting.

Something everyone in the discussion agreed on was that the pandemic highlighted the need for end-to-end visibility, especially in terms of your supply chain. It’s become even more important to have visibility not only of your Tier-1 suppliers but well into your longtail. The supply chain is fragile – COVID really highlighted that and events like the ship which got stuck sideways in the Suez Canal really just drives that idea home. You never really know, so having total supply chain visibility of all your suppliers is key to business continuity regardless of if there’s a pandemic or a sideways boat in a canal.

What’s new? – ROI & CFOs

In the finance function of the future, everything runs off visibility and high-quality data. Finance is changing and its function is shifting to be more about being a good partner. Moving more towards business partners and having the right people in the right places at the right time working together will be key going into 2022 and beyond. This means that the CFO role will need to develop into one that is more focused on collaboration across business functions and possibly even different types of ROI.

Sure, there’s ROI on a technology investment in the traditional sense of the matter where the financial impact is top of mind. But other types of ROI can be measured to ensure that the value is properly accounted for. There are other leading indicators to consider such as how customers are reaching or your NPS score and its trajectory. These can help identify if your business is headed in the right direction though they don’t necessarily measure the financial impact. Within your business, you can measure trends such as time saved on manual versus automated tasks or team engagement and satisfaction. In other words, there must be a balance of tangible and intangible elements you measure. When a CFO takes these elements into account, they go from being a Chief Financial Officer to something like a Chief Value Officer for their firm.

Watch the full discussion

Watch the entire discussion and get the rest of the details in the on-demand video here.