An intriguing survey was recently conducted by BeeBole with several CFOs and financial experts, asking them to predict which tech trends will shake up financial management in 2018.
As noted in the survey, plenty of answers had to do with artificial intelligence, cloud technology, automated accounting, and how different tech developments are transforming the role of the CFO in business and turning the CFO into a strategic partner.
Although it’s often difficult to predict which trends will succeed and expand and which trends will fade into the background, the following answers from BeeBole’s survey will help you pinpoint the technology that you should consider using in your business.
BeeBole’s 6 Technology Trends for CFOs in 2018
A real test For artificial intelligence (AI)
There were big expectations for AI in 2017. In fact, some people expected to see voice control and smart assistants like Alexa or Siri exploding in the workplace. However, AI hasn’t been fully integrated into financial management yet. According to Mark Gandy, a consultant providing CFO services for small to medium-sized businesses at G3CFO, the financial field still needs to catch up with that.
Automated accounting and transactions gain momentum
One of the ‘natural’ outcomes that comes with the development of AI is automation. Some experts think that 2018 will be the year where automated accounting will flourish. For instance, Ralph Wilson, Group Finance Director for reach4entertainment enterprises and former Head of Finance for BBC Worldwide, expects to see “more user-friendly and more automated accounting systems” this year. He also thinks that “automated purchase and sales ledger transaction processing between clients and suppliers” will play a big role in the upcoming months. Similarly, Chris Bevelander believes that “integration and large scale application of automatic processing of digital invoices and further digitising invoices” will have a major impact in financial management. In fact, the adoption of this kind of technology will change the face of the financial field. According to John Orlando, Executive Vice President and CFO of the budgeting company Centage, one of the benefits that comes with the adoption of these kinds of automated tools is that finance departments will “become more focused on developing and evaluating key strategies.”
Real-time insights (will) become essential
Last year, Jeff Thomson, an expert in CFO matters, wrote an article in Forbes Magazine predicting several things for 2017. One of his predictions was the following: “finance will become increasingly dependent on automation and analytics to deliver real-time, clear actionable and forward-looking insights.” According to the group of experts who contributed to this article, this is one of those trends that will maintain its appeal throughout all of 2018.
Better decisions through data management and business intelligence
In 2018, CFOs will have new and improved tools that will help them to standardise and provide quick access to data. As a result of that, data visualisation will represent “a big advantage and a great tool in the decision making process for financial processes, in particular” argues Vanessa Goscinny, Finance Director for the Open Society Foundations in Haiti.
Further (and better) integration through cloud technology
According to Vanessa Goscinny, “cloud based applications and devices, will continue to strongly influence the way organizations work,” something she sees quite relevant in terms of collaborative working and access to data and other information from anywhere in real time.
As far as financial management goes, cloud-based solutions (vs all-in-one software) are here to stay for the long run. As a matter of fact, making a reference to a research published by Bain, Roy Golden, CFO at Zerto, recently stated in cfo.com that the global cloud market is expected to grow to $ 390 billion by 2020.
“Cloud computing is one of the biggest tech trends in a generation… and one of the biggest areas of impact is how it presents a new landscape for chief financial officers to work within”
A more strategic focus for a digital CFO
According to Michele Zangri, Vice-President of Operations and CFO for Unit 4 in North America, “modern technology has played a big hand if no the entire hand” in the evolution of finance roles. With all the on-going digital disruption in AI, automation, real-time data and cloud technology, the role of the chief financial officer will inevitable continue to evolve throughout 2018.
This year, we will continue to see that evolution with more CFOs engaging in a whole variety of tasks highly influenced by new technology. “We will have to learn how to analyze data in real-time, how to detect future risks for our companies, where to find data, and especially how to add value to that data” advanced Miguel Losada.
While it’s difficult to predict how many of these trends will become the most prominent gamechangers in 2018, one thing is certain: the role of the CFO is itself changing rapidly, and that pace of change is only going to increase.