Today, as we are amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, which has fundamentally reset all business models, it’s setting up the ‘New Normal.’ One of the fundamental changes this pandemic has ushered in is the acceleration in digital adoption pace. The core focus of the CFOs in the first part of the year, as we have been struggling with COVID for six months now, they’ve been focused on trying to use technology to see how to stabilize the business, safeguard liquidity, and then also plan to build strategic opportunities for the future. This has been the critical deliverables for the CFOs as we have been battling this in every business.
The world is getting used to this new normal from reacting mode, and the global economy is also starting to recalibrate that the game is changed. Hence, CFOs have also very quickly accelerated the adoption during the first six months. The focus was probably to look at accelerating inbound cash flows, looking at some large systems, technologies, and innovations to keep the cash flows control the spending. But now, slowly, everyone is recalibrating themselves and trying to prepare for this new way forward. That’s where CFO plays the role of the new digital leader.
Digital Finance Leader – Technology Perspective
One of the vital parts is re-evaluating legacy finance processes, transforming, driving efficiency, and implementing intelligent process automation at scale because the need is to continuously automate transaction-based processes and focus on judgment-based and cognitive processes. Also, a clear view of what data holds value to the organization is essential for a CFO to focus on what information is relevant to drive improved decision making and performance management.
Regarding technology, which is now driving or fuelling this change right from AI, from robotic process automation, advanced machine learning has now become the critical catalysts for this unprecedented change that’s happening. And all of us have to adopt this quickly.
Looking from the framework perspective, taking the example of Oracle, a technology leader, they call agile digital finance. So, what does that mean? Oracle says that it is built on three pillars. One is operational excellence, which indicates how do I incorporate intelligent technologies like AI, ML, and blockchain in my processes. Second is digital intelligence, building the analytical skills and personal capabilities needed to run operations efficiently. And last is business influence, meaning how we free up our talent and resources from the mundane rule-based world to start focusing on more digital disruption and digital influence strategy. So, this is typically what would define the modern, agile digital finance leader.
Data and the Digital Transformation
The CFO function and the CFOs are best suited to leverage data power because data science is the business science. And if one looks at data in terms of the before the release of data Volume, Righty, Velocity, and Veracity, the CFOs are the best leaders to understand the importance of using data to drive more informed decision making. That’s a powerful capability which the CFOs could leverage. And from an overall data sciences perspective, CFOs use data sciences to drive better data definition and data standards. Because of that understanding of Data Excel, various data centre models’ success has become more effective. If they could also integrate this with other operational information in real-time using different technologies, it becomes a powerful combination of digital support systems, especially when you could probably harness the power of advanced predictive & prescriptive analytics. That’s how data could likely fuel this digital transformation.