Accelerating Ahead: A CFO’s Guide to the Future of Finance
Accelerating Ahead: A CFO’s Guide to the Future of Finance
by Scott Schimberg
July 24, 2023

It’s a race to the future of finance. You don’t want to be left in the dust.

The financial landscape is evolving rapidly, driven by advancing technology, changing customer expectations, security challenges and talent needs. To prepare for what’s next, finance leaders will need to embrace artificial intelligence, automation, cybersecurity and more — or risk being rendered obsolete.

Read on to learn about the trends and technologies shaping finance and the strategies that’ll help you navigate the twists and turns ahead.

Accelerating Ahead: A CFO’s Guide to the Future of Finance

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Take the Lead With AI

As finance teams increasingly incorporate technology into their organizational strategies, early adoption of cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence (AI) is essential to staying relevant and competitive.

AI can revolutionize your organization by transforming the way you use data. AI-powered tools can increase data accuracy and thereby strengthen forecasting and predictive capabilities. For instance, consider anomaly detection. You can perform anomaly detection on a dataset to uncover irregularities or inconsistencies that may exist within your organization’s financial data. As those anomalies are flagged and removed, data quality improves.

As a result, data ultimately can be used in a much more impactful manner. You can go beyond mere reporting of past results and instead harness your data to drive future decisions and even predict the best course of action.

Leveraging predictive analytics based on machine learning allows finance teams to gain deeper insights into historical trends, patterns and correlations within their data. These analytics can then facilitate collaborative discussions and strategies across the organization, helping your team chart accurate forecasts, make informed decisions about budgeting, investments and resource allocation and proactively seize opportunities for growth. AI-driven data can also be used alongside natural language processing (which enables computers to understand and interpret human language) to optimize communications and negotiations.

Accelerate With RPA

Robotic process automation (RPA) is another pivotal technology shaping the future of finance. RPA functions as a task-driven software robot that can help you automate time-consuming, resource-intensive tasks, including account reconciliation, data entry and validation and the generation of financial reports.

This means that RPA can also be used to extend the productivity of your workforce. It serves as a digital coworker, simplifying cross-department communication and decision-making processes. By integrating RPA with AI, you can unlock even greater potential, utilizing machine learning and natural language processing to streamline processes, improve efficiency and minimize manual intervention. The accuracy and reduced manual effort achieved through RPA can ultimately drive cost savings and significantly impact your organization’s bottom line.

To start boosting efficiency with RPA, consider where your organization is at in its digital transformation journey and identify the manual tasks that, when automated, can yield the greatest financial benefits. Pinpoint areas where increased speed and accuracy can support your budgeting, planning and forecasting. This will help you determine how you can best optimize RPA to achieve peak productivity and profitability.

Rev Up Your Workforce With Dynamic Skill Sets

To outpace the competition, forward-thinking finance leaders must go beyond simply implementing the right technology and automation tools. It is equally crucial for you to reassess how you utilize your workers and embrace the dynamic skillsets required within your workforce to unleash the potential of human-machine collaboration.

As automation and AI continue to shape the future of finance, the role of human employees must evolve as well. Because many manual tasks can be efficiently handled by AI and RPA, this presents an opportunity for organizations to allocate more time and resources to strategic, value-added tasks.

This shift allows employees to redirect their focus toward activities that require critical thinking and precise decision-making. Consequently, this means that leaders need to stay on the pulse of the evolving skillsets necessary for success in each position and should reassess ways they can attract and retain top-notch talent.

It also underscores the necessity for organizations to hire skilled individuals who know how to interpret data, take effective action and understand the resulting outcomes. Advocating for this expertise can empower your workers, enable them to become indispensable assets within your organization and ensure a smoother, faster workflow — all while increasing job satisfaction and reducing burnout.

Pull Ahead With Reliable Cybersecurity

The prevalence and complexity of cybersecurity threats continues to be a leading trend affecting organizations of all sizes and in all industries. Cybersecurity hacks not only pose a risk to your company’s reputation but can also result in financial losses or even legal liabilities. As hackers become more sophisticated and global regulations tighten, the importance of establishing a robust cybersecurity program will only become more critical.

To effectively combat these threats, finance leaders must prioritize measures to proactively safeguard data and ensure continued customer confidence in their organization. This includes budgeting for increased security costs, such as investing in advanced technologies, security audits and employee training programs. It is also crucial to hire a chief information officer to oversee your organization’s IT people, processes and technology and to work closely with IT to minimize your organization’s vulnerabilities and maintain an effective cybersecurity strategy.

Adopting a cloud solution is another key strategy for future-proofing customer trust and safeguarding your financial stability. Cloud solutions typically have a higher level of security compared to individual on-premise solutions. Because cloud providers are responsible for protecting the data of thousands of customers, they must uphold comprehensive security measures to retain user trust.

In addition, because a typical ERP cloud provider allocates substantial resources to bolster their security infrastructure, their security usually surpasses the security that a single organization could accomplish on its own. So, your organization is likely to be much better protected under cloud security.

Cloud Adoption for the Finish Line

A major roadblock preventing many businesses from keeping up in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace is their outdated technology. Legacy finance systems lag in functionality and hinder efficient decision-making and data analysis. That’s why the ongoing shift from on-premise software to cloud adoption will continue into the future — and if you haven’t already made the switch, now is the time to catch up by driving cloud adoption across the finish line.

Cloud-based software can help you foster a culture of ongoing system reviews and innovation. By leveraging the cloud, your organization can easily update and upgrade software, allowing you to take advantage of the latest features and functionalities. This eliminates the need for complex and cumbersome system maintenance and upgrades and enables your organization to stay agile and adapt to changing circumstances.

Additionally, a cloud environment can support configuration that adapts to your changing needs. Compare this to complex customizations, for example. If you’re configuring a system, you’re adjusting it in a way tailored specifically to you that you can scale up or down, left or right. But if you’re customizing instead of configuring, every level of customization adds a level of complexity that modifies code and a level of tech debt, ultimately hindering any real progress.

The Road Ahead

The future of finance is undergoing a transformative journey. It will continue to be shaped by new technology, changing employee and customer expectations and ever more complex cyber threats. To stay ahead of the curve, finance leaders need to act now to embrace innovation and prioritize agility.

To future-proof against disruption, adopt a mindset of continuous planning. (If you are doing a standard approach of looking at your financials from the last three months to identify trends, you’re already three months behind.) Getting a more real-time view of the world and being able to pivot and shift and change, leveraging things like data, process and scalability is very important. Preparing now for the future of finance will help ensure you can thrive amid uncertainty and seize opportunities for lasting success.

What Gaps Exist in Your Technology Strategy?

Trying to determine the best way to leverage technology for your organization can be challenging for any CFO. Armanino has award-winning expertise with best-of-breed business technology solutions. Contact our Business Application Consulting team today to start mapping the technology strategy that’ll accelerate your finance team into the future.

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