Europe - Opportunities and Tipping Points

Oracle has recently unveiled a couple of interesting research projects, one a global one with EMEA content, the other a purely European affair, and both concerning how technology is affecting business life:

  • Global research, undertaken with Accenture, looked at how the role of the Chief Financial Officer is evolving
  • And research across western European countries looked at how the current trend of "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) is playing out
At first blush, these two topics may seem to be related only tenuously.  But look behind the headlines and you'll see that there's a common thread, which is the impact of technology on the business lives of people across the region.

We discover that the modern CFO, far from living up to the Monty Python image of boring accountancy, is becoming a strong evangelist for the transformational potential of technology.  Nearly three-quarters of finance executives believe new technologies such as the cloud, mobile technology and social media will change how finance is structured and run.  The increasing importance of technology in managing the rising tide of data and analytics is seen as 50 percent of respondents in the region saw an increase in the number of finance analysts hired over the past two years.  This reflects the growing need for finance talent with a deeper and broader range of business and analytical skills.  

Generally, findings from the report indicate that the maturation of big data analytics, cloud, mobile, and social media has led us to a new tipping point at which businesses must re-evaluate their digital strategies - 70 percent of respondents believe these technologies will change the way they run and structure the finance function in their businesses, which will have significant knock-on effect for employees across the board.  As Dee Houchen, Oracle EMEA Senior Director of Applications puts it, “Empowered by data insights and collaborative new ways of working, modern finance organizations are no longer content to focus on containing costs and instead are looking at new ways to deliver insight and value to the rest of the business.”   


And, talking of new ways of working, the emergence of BYOD is another technological trend which is set to have a massive impact on people's business lives.  From the business perspective, the savings alone in procurement and network costs can mean that BYOD more than pays for itself - and that's before you take into account its other advantages, such as increased employee productivity, reduced hardware costs for IT and an improved ability to attract the best of today’s young talent. And for people at work, BYOD offers clear advantages of familiarity and flexibility in getting to grips with the job at hand.  So why, might you ask, are businesses not universally embracing such a clearly advantageous trend?  It would seem that worries about security means that many companies across Europe are hanging back.  Nearly half of businesses (44%) dislike BYOD or only allow it in exceptional circumstances.  Security, be it of device or of information, is the main concern expressed by the vast majority of respondents, but that 44% of "BYOD Deniers" are even more concerned, as well they might be, since around two-thirds of them are permitting unmanaged and/or unencrypted business data on employees' personal devices.

And it needn't be so.  As Alan Hartwell, Oracle EMEA's VP of Security and Identity Solutions says, "Technologies such as containerization, end-to-end encryption and device and application management integrated with a unified enterprise identity store can secure BYOD environments.  These are all capabilities available today within Oracle’s mobile portfolio and deployed by Global Fortune 100 customers,  It is vital that stakeholders within the BYOD ecosystem make this clear to their businesses. This should result in a major increase in the number of European organizations gaining the benefits offered by BYOD."

Technology is set to have an increasingly significant impact on our business and personal lives.  And these two research projects really underline and bring to life how IT is set to change our businesses and improve our lives.

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