The importance of all things digital in everyday life means that ever-increasing volumes of information are being generated. The volume of data is exploding, and will continue to increase in years to come. While some companies sink under the deluge, others will seize the competitive advantage that comes with truly making the most of information.
At present, the focus is on innovation. And, more often than not, the CFO is the one bearing the brunt of the change. Why?
The 3 major challenges every CFO faces
Today’s CFO is the guardian of critical data, responsible for handling and analysing all the information the business needs. They provide the analytics and statistical modelling that underpin the financial accuracy of millions of lines of figures. Without the finance team, other departments would be unable to have faith in an automated system – which means the CFO and finance function also play an essential role in helping to avoid reputational and financial risk.
There is a driving trend, throughout Europe, towards ominichannel management of data flows, allowing businesses to capture and process all incoming information in any format (PDF, paper, email, etc.) and eliminate the need for manual processing of vast quantities of data.
These responsibilities pose several challenges for today’s CFO. They must:
- Optimise the company’s internal processes for all of the information,
- Meet regulatory requirements, in order to avoid penalties,
- Facilitate exchanges and collaboration with the various players within the company
Virtualisation: the first step towards a truly digital finance operation
According to a study conducted by PwC, virtualisation is about ensuring that financial operations are always prioritised. In fact, 66% of CFOs find that digital processes allow them to be more efficient as they respond to rising environmental challenges. And of course, the benefits provided by this technology include mutual gains for the company and its various stakeholders:
- Reduced costs
Virtualisation saves companies money by reducing paperwork, transportation costs and storage facilities. In addition, the latest cloud or hybrid storage methods are helping to democratise information and pricesses by providing the transparency and flexibility required to lower deployment costs.
- Reduction of the risk of errors and fraud
By implementing digital processes, businesses can also significantly reduce the risk of error and fraud. For example: automation makes the processing of supplier invoices, which is a highly regulated process (collection of VAT, etc.) far safer. Necessary tests and the reconciliations can be incorporated within the ERP, making it easier to ensure that all documents are fully compliant. Even better, this process allows for the feed of a Reliable Audit Course with a minimum amount of manual intervention.
- Improved collaboration structures
With digital processes in place, it becomes easier to establish a collaborative portal with a view to streamlining the way information flows between depanrtments, business units, suppliers, partners and clients. Information – and communications can easily be structured into a centralised hub, making it easier to monitoring of documents and monthly orders and prevent things from being forgotten, mislaid or left incomplete.
Mastering the new Corporate Grail
Digital transformation has resulted in significant structural changes for those in charge of companies’ financial departments. It calls for new skills and more sophisticated tools. Virtualisation is one of the first steps towards ensuring a business transformation is a productive one. CFOs have an acknowledged central role in the digital transformation process – and by applying digital processes to the finance function, they can achieve strong competitive advantage: it is a means of gaining agility in the face of regulatory constraints, but it is also about mastering “the new Holy Grail of business”: data!