Although the Covid-19 pandemic is in its aftermath stage, the impact it had is irreversible. The office-bound world we once knew has changed, seeing remote and hybrid workforces become the reality. Similarly, online customer engagement has become the norm, and in a world that is evolving so quickly, it’s no surprise that 83% claim that business finance and accounting have become infinitely more complex.
This was one of the findings of recent research by leader in cloud-based financial and accounting software, Sage, dubbed “The Digital CFO”. The research revealed that the customer behaviours and business operations that were fundamentally altered by these turbulent times, are here to stay. In reality, the pandemic created major challenges for businesses of every size, and in every industry, and saw organisations and individuals alike having to change with the times in order to meet these challenges head on.
With the changing times, 60% of financial leaders were in accord that hybrid or remote work is not going anywhere, and is becoming the norm, and CFOs today are expected to meet the new demands of their evolved roles, which they say stresses how critical digitalisation and digital transformation have become.
Alongside this drive towards digitisation, 95% of financial leaders say that the pandemic has emphasised the need for better financial technology in their businesses, and are realising that traditional on-premises financial software systems cannot hope to manage the floods of data that are drowning their businesses. In fact, 95% of respondents reported suffering from “data overload”.
This is seeing cloud-based financial systems rise to the fore, because they help finance teams and leaders do their jobs effectively, freeing them from laborious, repetitive manual tasks, and giving them more time to focus on the needs of their customers and employees. Cloud solutions also have the ability to give finance leaders the actionable insights they need, at the click of a button.
Moreover, most CFOs surveyed were in accord, with 91% agreeing that cloud-based software is the way forward for any business hoping to achieve sustainable success. A further 89% believe that cloud-based software is better than on-premises software, and 88% said they are excited about the potential of cloud-based tools.
Today’s finance leaders understand that adopting cloud-based systems is vital for their teams as it gives them a clear advantage in the today’s distributed, hybrid working world. Investing in cloud-based financial systems is critical for CFOs who need to meet the expectations of their shareholders.
Another benefit of adopting cloud-based financial systems is that they encourage the democratisation of data. They do this by empowering CFOs and finance teams by putting automation, real-time data access, greater data accuracy and security into their hands. It is easy to understand why this is such a compelling prospect for finance leaders, and the research highlighted how 83% of businesses plan to start automating manual tasks more and more.
In addition, it was revealed that building a team that is aware, accountable and empowered, is key to the successful evolution of financial leadership. However, this cannot be done when data is siloed and inaccessible and needs a great amount of manual intervention to access the information employees need to get their jobs done. Cloud-based financial systems open data it up for increased collaboration and quicker results that greatly enhance the overall productivity of the team. Naturally, there is a caveat: unless people know how to use them, cloud systems will not be effective.
Another benefit of adopting cloud-based financial systems is that they encourage the democratisation of data
Another quality that successful finance leaders need to be effective is to be someone who invests in their human resources and equips them with all the tools and skills they need to help them excel in their positions. This is particularly true in today’s post-pandemic world that is riddled with uncertainty and upheaval, where the stakes are raised. Luckily, the research showed that the vast majority (97%) of financial leaders in charge of adopting and adapting to modern technologies, such as cloud, understand that including and upskilling their teams is key to getting the best results, right from the start.
And no mention of the cloud can happen without other advanced, and possibly complementary technologies, such as AI, coming up. In fact, there is a strong case to be made when it comes to using AI to bolster cloud-based financial systems with additional benefits, and finance leaders are taking notice.
About The Digital CFO
As a leader in cloud-based financial and accounting software in South Africa, Sage identified a need to connect with the finance community and share insights during a time of significant and accelerated change, to unpack how finance leadership role has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 313 senior finance professionals from businesses with 50 to 5 000 employees were interviewed during August 2021 to help finance leaders better understand the key shifts in their roles and responsibilities – and how their peers are navigating the changing landscape. The aim of this research is to provide senior financial decision makers and CFOs with strategic and relevant insights that support their role reinvention as they adjust to a digitised working world.
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