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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

3 Opportunities to Standardize with Modern Finance

Rudy Lukez
Director, ERP Product Marketing, Oracle

Not so long ago, finance departments for most organizations provided just back-office services. Their mission was straightforward: pay invoices (debits), collect revenues (credits), balance the books each month through the general ledger, and assist with audits, budgets and taxes.

Month after month. Year after year. A routine based on a system established by a Venetian monk in 1494.

Today, the landscape for the finance function extends well beyond the cyclical rhythm of credit and debit back-office activities. While traditional accounting activities are still important for any finance team, company demands on CFOs and their teams have not only dramatically increased but shifted from purely tactical tasks to broad strategic scenarios.

The digital age is the most exciting thing to happen to the finance function since Luca Pacioli, 500 years ago, first outlined accounting principles. With the shift from tactical support to strategic perspectives, it’s no wonder that finance teams globally are eagerly embracing the change; it’s putting finance front and center in modern companies.

Finance is a Strategic Partner in the Business

As a strategic partner in today’s organizations, finance is now asked for input about every area of the business. These requests require real-time data and analytics to help leaders make decisions about innovation, regulations, competition, infrastructure, processes and resources. Leadership teams want to support their decisions with solid data and comprehensive analytics leveraging cloud technologies, including core financial applications.

But finance in the 21st century goes beyond digitally collecting and corroborating data.

Get your guide to finance in the 21st century. Download the handbook.

Finance now must leverage reporting, analytics, mobility and social tools to interweave company collaboration with dynamic data sets. The insights garnered from these collective activities help deliver consistent and accurate information to leadership teams. Without the cloud, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for finance teams to meet these changing expectations.

As if this wasn’t enough to do, finance teams must also keep on top of rapidly evolving accounting, tax and reporting regulations (examples include IFRS 15 / ASC 606), plus take a leadership role in adopting best practices—including those related to risk and compliance management, business insight, and operational agility.

It is a big ask, and at times can seem overwhelming, especially considering the pace of this evolution.

Yet, the opportunities with modern finance can lead to huge career rewards. Consider three goals that today’s organizations are pursuing:

  1. Standardized, Data-Driven Decisions. Too many organizations rely on spreadsheets and gut feel to make decisions. Spreadsheets obviously use data, but is just a snapshot of exported information the basis for analysis? Is the spreadsheet controlled and error-free? With modern finance, your data works in real-time and analytics are part of the software, not generated by hand-crafted and easy-to-change solutions.
  2. Banishing “Compliance Complacency.” With modern finance, the burden of keeping pace with changing compliance and related regulatory standards is significantly reduced. Since cloud software stays current, meeting requirements for new standards like IFRS 15 is simplified. You have confidence that your cloud solution is up to new (and modified) regulatory requirements.
  3. Discarding Legacy Systems. Modern finance replaces your aging and limited legacy systems. Since modern finance solutions are deployed in the cloud, op-ex costs and the flexibility to rapidly add users is the new normal. Expensive cap-ex projects become historical relics.

There is no doubt anymore about the importance and influence of modern finance in the 21st century. My conversations with finance leaders about the cloud have shifted, over the last 18 months,  from “what” and “why” to “how.” Finance teams are embracing the shift from old paradigms—which is good for companies, and good for careers.

Oracle has assembled more information about the changes and opportunities of modern finance—including recent customer stories and a fun “Top 10” list—in a new e-book. “Your Complete Guide to Modern Finance” is the second handbook in the Oracle series, “Handbooks for the Modern Enterprise.” Download your free copy today and embark on your journey to modern finance for the 21st century.

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