Lastest news

The future success of the CFO depends on robots

Feb 16, 2019

The traditional role of the CFO is evolving at a rapid pace. If you want to succeed as a CFO going forward, you have to adopt and embrace the technological innovations and changes happening around you, says Xiomara Sanchez.

The role of finance is changing. Transactions will be touchless as automation, cognitive and analytics reach deeper into finance operations, self-service will become the norm, and new service-delivery models will emerge with a talent mix of robots and humans. The amplified intelligence leveraged from internal and external data will strengthen the role of the CFO, but only if technology is leveraged to truly optimise it.

While the traditional CFO’s role focuses on operational activities of compliance, control, cost reduction and getting the numbers right, many CFOs are now facing the next challenge of evolving finance further as a value-providing function that supplies business insights and drives decision-making support.

Digital is leading the transformation of Finance and the CFO is in the driver’s seat. As Deloitte outlined in a recent report, Finance in a digital world, digital presents a multitude of new opportunities that will allow the CFO to explore and utilise larger data sets of information, to process it effectively and efficiently, and leverage it to drive insight and decision-making.

New tools

New challenges require new tools. Here’s the top seven technologies that can help the CFO deliver on this new role:

  1. Process robotics: which enables the automation of transaction processing. ‘Bots’ perform recurring activities more efficiently with less risk of errors while reducing the cost of manual and routine processes.
  2. Cognitive computing: advancements in machine learning, natural language generation, and speech recognition have broadened opportunities for automation to reduce costs and improve accuracy on simple and complex transactions.
  3. In-memory computing: allows you to access large volumes of consolidated data with increased processing power to enhance the visibility of information through efficient processes.
  4. Cloud computing: provides greater flexibility and scalability resulting in shortened close cycles, reduction to reconciliations and data entry through a single platform.
  5. Visualisation: the innovative use of interactive technology helps generate user-friendly dashboards, allowing users to explore large, high-density data sets through self-service reporting.
  6. Advanced analytics: tackle the crunch questions by sourcing greater volumes of data and performing more rigorous pattern recognition and predictions using data science.
  7. Blockchain: a digital distributed ledger where transactions are verified by all participants, securely stored on a network of distributed and connected nodes. This increases transparency and the speed of exchange between entities while reducing the number of intermediaries.

The pace of digital is putting new pressures on finance to adapt. Digital disruption is a given, but how do you get started? Smart CFOs are investing in fully robotised and automated transactional processes and controls, the stepping-stones to enable the next big shift. This change will empower the CFO to focus on making the decisions that maximise business and customer impact, while embedding finance as a key business partner who is prepared for the fourth industrial revolution.

Xiomara Sanchez is a Senior Manager in Deloitte’s Finance Transformation team.