Are You a Digital Finance Leader? New Study Uncovers the Key Traits

January 28, 2019 | 3 minute read
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Oracle OpenWorld London this month saw the unveiling of major research from The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants—the global member organization formed by members of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)—and Oracle. The report, Agile Finance Unleashed: The Key Traits of Digital Finance Leaders, builds upon our ground-breaking research from 2017 which defined a new, agile operating model for finance.

For this new research, we surveyed more than 700 finance executives globally to identify the key traits of digital finance and to help guide CFOs on a path to achieving it.

Key Research Findings

Agile finance is digital finance.

The operating model we identified in 2017 has evolved to embrace emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, IoT, blockchain and others. Leading finance teams are leveraging these technologies to radically transform how finance contributes value to the business.

There is a strong correlation between digital finance and organizational success.

Organizations that have prioritized digital finance are much more likely than their peers to have reported positive revenue growth over the past 12 months.

Less than one third (32%) of the total sample display the traits that would qualify their teams as Digital Finance Leaders.

These leaders have implemented a digital finance operating model built upon three pillars:

  • Operational Excellence: Driving process automation at scale, re-engineering legacy finance processes, and keeping a “digital-first, cloud-first” mindset.
  • Digital Intelligence: Connecting data enterprise-wide, using AI to uncover hidden patterns, and gaining a clear view of which data has the most value to the business.
  • Business Influence: Partnering with the business, using data-driven insights to recommend new courses of action, and influencing business strategy.

The majority of finance teams are lagging far behind the leaders.

  • Only 10% of total respondents say their finance team has the skills it needs to support the organization’s digital ambitions.
  • Only 35% of all respondents say their organization looks to actively disrupt its sector.
  • Only 15% say their finance function is widely recognized for its strategic awareness of new technologies (such as AI) and their potential to drive new business models.

Key Takeaways for Senior Finance Leaders

Catch up or fall behind: The urgency to adopt a new finance model has never been greater.

There is a growing gap between “superstar firms,” leading in productivity and profitability, and everyone else. The superstars are capturing the lion’s share of market demand, investment, and talent.

CFOs cannot drive enterprise growth and strategy without a digital finance operating model.

To be successful in the digital age, enterprises need a CFO that not only drives the effectiveness of the finance function, but also plays a strategic role in the wider enterprise’s success. Outmoded finance operating models, focused mainly on transaction processing and manual controls, prevent CFOs from fulfilling this broader strategic mandate.

New technologies enable the digital finance operating model.

In her forward for Agile Finance Unleashed, Oracle CEO Safra Catz noted that thanks to high-performance compute capabilities and the ability of software to manage and analyze data, any CFO can now easily access cloud-based AI and machine learning technologies to build new, more agile finance operating models.

Digital finance leaders interviewed for the research are: 

  • Driving operational excellence with the intelligent process automation. 
  • Offering new levels of digital intelligence with AI and data analytics.
  • Automating routine tasks and arming themselves with data, thereby gaining the time and insights to focus on true business influence.

We’ll have more on the research in future editions, including a look at each of the three operating model pillars, and an examination of key industries.

Get the full report.

Download the Research

Anne Ozzimo

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