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A new generation of accountants is driving business strategy

It is proving tough in today’s economic climate to continue on the road to post-pandemic recovery. Many companies are still adapting to new hybrid and remote ways of working and taking cautious steps to make their systems and supply chains more resilient. As the ‘cost of doing business’ rises, many firms face turning to their customers to help absorb the additional strain.

There are, however, other tools available to industrious firms looking to offset these rising costs. Finance teams have stepped up to the challenge, taking a holistic view of their organisations, identifying the potential of new technologies, investments, and ways of working that can boost efficiency.

Change starts in the back office 

Inefficient back-offices hold organisations back. Messy process landscapes slow day-to-day tasks, while outdated on-premise systems make it difficult for change to happen at pace.

Organisations must break down functional and data siloes, pulling data from across finance, procurement, HR, customer services, and supply chain management to gain a 360° view of their operations. Businesses often have untapped economic value and human capital, not to mention the value of their data itself. By looking at organisations holistically, through an enterprise resource planning (ERP) lens, this value can be unlocked. This may be through efficiency-based cost savings, or unlocking employees’ potential with new, intelligent tools.

While there is no single turnkey solution for digital transformation, cloud infrastructure and applications allow for greater flexibility. On-premise systems make it difficult to keep pace with market changes and innovation. In contrast, cloud solutions are updated regularly and can be optimised for an organisation’s needs.

This flexibility extends to pricing models. With cloud SaaS solutions, organisations can operate on a pay-per-use basis, and scale their operations up and down as needed. Combine this with a relatively low upfront cost, and the cloud represents a compelling value proposition.

Automation unlocks staff potential 

Currently 65% of finance staff’s effort is devoted to hindsight and diagnostic work. Automation, through ERP solutions, can reduce the amount of time spent on compiling data, reporting, and other labour-intensive tasks, freeing up teams to focus on delivering intelligent business insights where they are needed most.

With the right tools and real-time insights, finance teams have the potential to drive better outcomes across an organisation. Machine learning capabilities enable them to identify patterns and anomalies, making it easier to discover, test, and launch new products, services, and initiatives. As organisations undergo digital transformation, accountants are undergoing a transformation in their own right. 

The role of the accountant is evolving

Thanks to automation, the days of simple bookkeeping are numbered. Empowered by the greater agility this affords, finance professionals are increasingly specialising, from treasury management or procurement, to forecasting and planning. In turn, companies are increasingly hiring talent with expertise in machine learning and data science, with the view to create more technologically-enabled finance teams, accessing broader sets of operational and financial data.

While historical data was traditionally used to inform decision-making, insights based on predictive modelling can inform the decision-making required to negotiate rapidly changing markets. Assumptions based on previous outcomes can no longer be viewed as reliable indicators of future change – the only certainty is uncertainty.

In light of this, accountants are increasingly being viewed as future-facing strategists. They have a significant role to play in safeguarding their organisations through careful analysis of real-time data and identifying cost savings that can alleviate inflationary pressures.

A new focus for finance 

Accountants are also increasingly looking beyond the traditional balance sheet. Growing pressure to measure and improve environmental, social, and governance (ESG) outcomes has seen sustainability become the new focus for finance professionals. In a move that sees accountants become more accountable, staff are increasingly involved in ESG initiatives.

Reporting on ESG is becoming a prerequisite for public and private organisations alike, and major technology firms like Facebook are demanding that their suppliers meet certain sustainability criteria too, in an effort to reach net-zero across their global supply chains. Finance leaders need to demonstrate quantifiable improvements to investors, partners, and the public – lip service to the issue and corporate greenwashing are no longer acceptable.

As organisations face significant economic challenges ahead, as well as the threat of climate breakdown, finance professionals must adapt to reduce costs and improve sustainability outcomes. They must be responsive to the needs of their business, and employ real-time data to inform strategy. At the heart of this transformation are powerful cloud technologies that are capable of driving change at scale.



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Nick Jackson

Nick Jackson

Finance Transformation Leader


Member since

14 Apr 2021



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