Points of View

Finance in the Digital Age

Digital technologies are changing the way we interact, operate and compete. With advancements in analytics and big data, automation, mobility, and cloud/Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), this onset of digital is having a visible impact on many enterprises' business models and customer behavior.

 

As most businesses focus their digital initiatives on the front office, few people would consider the finance and accounting (F&A) function as a leader in digital-driven change. And yet our research is now revealing that enterprises are starting to challenge the way they measure operational performance across core functions such as finance. They are realizing that they cannot achieve real business outcomes from their digital investments without connecting initiatives across the front, middle and back office. They require simplification and more intelligent operations in the emerging As-a-Service Economy.

 

The largest enterprises have already reaped the benefits from standardizing F&A by using outsourced and offshore service providers or shared services to consolidate processes, gain quality delivery, and save costs. In the As-a-Service Economy, however, the definition of "great" finance is evolving, with new ways to impact finance outcomes. Services buyers want greater productivity gains and improved decision making from different means such as automation and analytics. But with many new opportunities in hand, it is difficult to pinpoint the level of progress beyond a directional trend. Many of our industry conversations are now about how much impact digital is really having – or will have — on finance processes, people and technologies.

 

In January 2016, with input from the Genpact Research Institute, HfS Research surveyed 380 enterprise service buyers, advisors and service provider executives from the finance function. Our key objective was to learn about the impact of digital on finance and the differences in perception. It explores executives' views on bringing this business function into the digital age, their key challenges in enabling organizational change, and the investments and alliances they are making as they reimagine F&A. 


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