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Digital tech 'transforming finance functions'

Mar 10
Tags: Accenture
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Digital tech 'transforming finance functions'

Management consultants that work closely with finance departments can expect to see digital technologies playing an increasingly prominent role in this aspect of business over the coming years, research has suggested.

In a recent study by Accenture Strategy, nearly half (48 per cent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) said digital tech will have a fundamental impact on "everything finance does".

This is an area where companies are already gaining advantages from increased spending, with more than eight out of ten CFOs (82 per cent) reporting measurable return on investment (ROI) in digital initiatives.

The research highlighted some specific areas where businesses have benefited from digital innovations, with 86 per cent of organisations saying these technologies enabled them to improve risk management.

Enhanced forecast accuracy (67 per cent) is another common benefit, along with better decision making (66 per cent) and more time for finance teams to dedicate to high-value work (61 per cent).

The study also suggested that digital tech is driving improvement in staff productivity and could make concepts such as monthly and quarterly management reports a "relic of a bygone time".

As far as transformational benefits to firms are concerned, cycle time reduction (37 per cent) and staff productivity improvement (36 per cent) were cited as two of the biggest benefits of digitisation.

David Axson, managing director of Accenture Strategy, pointed out that the significance of digital technologies is expanding into new areas of business and delivering a more extensive range of benefits. 

"Today's CFOs are embracing digital more than ever. It is much more than social, mobile and analytics - they are increasingly relying on digital for security threat intelligence, blockchain and artificial intelligence too," he said. "Those that are moving beyond single-point applications to enterprise-wide digital deployment are seeing greater-than-expected ROIs across the board."

The report acknowledged that there are some barriers to growth in this area, the biggest of which is the level of investment required to make the most of digital technologies, which was cited by nearly one in five respondents (18 per cent).

Around one in six (16 per cent) said finding people with the necessary skills to implement and operate new technologies is a challenge.

In January, Accenture released its Technology Vision 2017 report, in which it outlined a future defined by "technology for people, by people". The study highlighted the rapid growth of human-focused technology in fields like artificial intelligence, digital ecosystems and marketplaces, which it predicted will "empower people" and "drive transformation of business and society".

Paul Daugherty, the professional services firm's chief technology and innovation officer, said the current pace of change in technology is heralding "the biggest advancements since the dawn of the Information Age".

He added: "As technology transforms the way we work and live, it raises important societal challenges and creates new opportunities. Ultimately, people are in control of creating the changes that will affect our lives, and we're optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies."

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Image: iStock/kovalchuk

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