Intelligent finance | through 6 disruptive technologies

Chief Financial Officers (CFO) to achieve competitive advantage in their finance function must leverage technology to become an intelligent, advisory function.

‘To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect’
-Oscar Wilde

A call to action for CFOs today to build a finance function for tomorrow

Our rankings reflect these fundamental characteristics. We looked at companies which have successfully achieved digital transformation and have made a fundamental re-shift in the way they create and define value for all stakeholders. Our opportunity is to understand how these organizations did it and perhaps implement in our own little ways, a framework to improve the odds of a mammoth transformative effort.

  1. Is your finance functional strategy backing your technology strategy?
  2. Do you have strong relationships with other functional heads to seek collaboration?
  3. Are you leveraging full power of data with clear metrics to achieve valuable results from technology?
  4. What strategic and operational decisions can you make and support with the use of technology?
  5. Have you evaluated the critical capabilities the function requires before adopting any new technology?
The impact of technology on the finance function

Despite CFOs realizing the true value of data, they are yet to exploit the full potential through disruptive technologies. The ability to analyse performance data more quickly enables companies to be agile and meet growth targets. Imagine a finance function that achieves competitive advantage by detecting anomalies and trends to harness deep, more real-time insights from the data.

The digital disruption opportunities are large, uncovering new sources of value across data silos present in the organization. Over 60% of the CFOs are increasingly investing in technological transformations to maintain competitive advantage. For example, leveraging advanced analytics to assess organization-wide tax and operational impact due to a specific regional regulatory change (e.g., General Data Protection Regulation).

Technological opportunities for the finance function

The digital disruption opportunities are enormous. This Twimbit study focuses on how CFOs can improve their function’s operability through use of six technologies.

  1. Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Streamline operations and reduce costs.
  2. Robotics Process Automation (RPA): Improve process speed and accuracy
  3. Cognitive Computing: Use intelligent computing to unlock insights at scale
  4. Data Visualisation: Visualize data and enable self-service analysis.
  5. Blockchain: Track trends and achieve efficiency through distributed digital ledger.
  6. Advanced Analytics: Accelerate decision support and identify growth opportunities.
6 Disruptive Technologies Changing the Face of Finance
  1. A cloud-based ERP helps to easily store, access and create vast amounts of data at lower cost.
    • Enable quicker decision-making with readily available data.
    • Provide flexibility with no heavy investment in IT architecture or costly updates and maintenance.
    • Drive standarisation in data categorization and storage.
  1. An RPA solution helps in automating manual, repetitive tasks from disparate systems with a continuous audit trail.
    • Complete routine accounts payable and receivables with high accuracy and quality.
    • Free-up manpower to focus on activities that increase business value.
    • Maintain a perfect audit trail for managing regulatory compliance.
  1. Digital tools such as business intelligence (BI) and self-service dashboards turn increasing amounts of raw data into accessible insight for the business.
    • Deliver insight stories for understanding the rationale behind numbers.
    • Enable business users to use, review and analyze data through self-service workbooks.
    • Provide interactive infographic-based information for further use in organizational presentations.
  1. Advanced analytics helps in identifying data patterns that go beyond human recognition.
    • Compare different sources of data and interpret complex behaviours.
    • Develop algorithms to predict forecast.
    • Identify growth opportunities for increased shareholder value through predictive modelling.
  1. A technology that includes artificial intelligence, machine learning and speech recognition, augmenting human intelligence in the most accurate form with high delivery speed.
    • Learn from data and interactions for solving complex business problems.
    • Detect anomalies and identify sensitivities in different data variables for supporting strategic decisions (e.g., M&A).
    • Derive real-time insights that go beyond traditional management insights for determining the future direction of the organization
  1. A digital platform that helps to store records of value transactions through a distributed, peer-to-peer network.
    • Maintain security of transaction through protected cryptography.
    • Quick validation of aggregated group of transactions.
    • Pull data from multiple blockchains for fast reconciliation of data records.
    • Integrate delivery and payment related to a transaction through a streamlined smart contract with vendors and customers.
Use of technology in the finance function

The use of technology in the finance function is creating a model of intelligent augmentation where technology augments human intelligence. CFOs view the future of finance function as an ‘intelligent factory’ where the technical capabilities of robotics and algorithms combines with the creativity and empathy of the human accountants. Digitalization of finance activities is helping to augment capabilities of finance staff to make faster, more efficient and productive decisions.

Twimbit’s 5 key actionable practices for successful and scalable technology adoption
  1. Conduct in-depth analysis of the existing finance’s IT infrastructure to assess the feasibility of desired technology adoption.
  2. Collaborate with other functional heads who have adopted a desired technology to learn and understand interoperability and success measures.
  3. Align functional technology goals with the overall organizational IT goals to avoid any discrepancies while achieving seamless adoption.
  4. Carry out frequent discussions with IT functional heads to communicate any changes and identify any anomalies during the adoption process.
  5. On-board key stakeholders (e.g., CEO, CHRO, CTO, Head of Compliance) for desired technology adoption to avoid any restrictions and roadblocks during implementation.
How DBS Bank devised its ‘digital to the core’ strategy in finance case-in-point: DBS Bank, Hong Kong

Jacqueline Chan Nap-Shan, Managing Director and CFO at DBS Bank Hong Kong states that for the organization-wide strategic digital transformation initiative ‘digital to the core’, there was a need to turn herself into a digital leader. The initiative covered all systems, platforms, people, the bank’s operating model, and a mandate to embed itself into the customer journey, Chan said. It required people from all business units and support functions to change how they worked.

People need to learn to deliver any bad new relating to a project’s progress, while leaders have to make it safe for them to do so and ensure there are no recriminations

Chan says the transformation allowed finance to replace old and complex systems with new technologies and stakeholders to access the right information for decision-making. Finance also aimed to:

  1. Shorten the record-to-report cycles.
  2. Catch up with the speed at which business is done.
  3. Build capabilities to enable better planning and financial projections through insightful analysis.

The goal is to link itself with the rest of the bank to leverage resources and support from other departments. Technologies deployed include data visualisation, which enhances the existing analytics tool and enables the creation of interactive business intelligence dashboards; RPA; and tools for detecting abnormalities to enhance risk and control management. For further details, please read on https://www.dbs.com.

In the future, every company will be a technology company. In this backdrop, we present these stories to inspire and motivate you. Legacy companies like Nike and Marriot are showing the way to digitally transform. And so are incumbents like Ping An. You too can tread the path of disruption and embrace change. There is ample scope for creativity and brilliance for companies to continually innovate business models and deliver strong customer value.

We would love to hear your transformations stories. The victories and challenges you experienced along the way. You can be a beacon for many others who are looking for an answer.

Please contact us to help us bring your success story to the world. The future of industries, companies, technology and work is defining our today.

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Digital Transformation

Demystifying DX - Stories, lessons, and applications.

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