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  • Stephanie Terrill, Leadership |

According to our Future Ready Finance Survey 2019, there’s a stark contrast between high-performing organizations and others as they prepare for the future. Nearly two-thirds of organizations surveyed have struggled to implement their most forward-thinking priorities, but high-performing companies enjoy a success rate of 50 percent or more on almost all Finance initiatives.

I know CFOs face a host of forces, but addressing the demands of a rapidly changing business environment is no easy feat. And while the forces of disruption are real, so is the opportunity. 

Agile service delivery models, extreme automation using cloud and emerging technologies, and advanced analytics to enable data-driven performance and decision making will be ‘table stakes’ in the near future. Finance organizations that fail to master these capabilities risk being left behind as their companies lose market share.

I see the largest opportunity for Finance is in driving innovation and responding to market disruption, however only 27 percent of Finance executives provide very strong support to the business in these areas.

As Finance continues to struggle with balancing its traditional role as a controller with developing these new capabilities, the survey uncovered a number of attributes that distinguish exemplar Finance functions in becoming a force for innovation within their enterprises:

  • New ways of working with business partners, utilizing an agile operating model that promotes collaboration and blurs the distinction between Finance and other business functions.
  • An emphasis on predictive and prescriptive analysis and insights to guide forward-looking business decisions rather than simply measuring past performance.
  • Automation of data management, transactional processes and other activities of low strategic value, freeing Finance staff to focus on higher value-added activities.
  • Supporting, and in many cases leading, enterprise- wide innovation through dynamic capital allocation that balances investments in core areas with known technology with riskier, new-to-the-organization or sector technologies.
  • A relentless focus on talent, ensuring that the Finance organization has access to the high-level analytical, design thinking, and technology skills needed in the future.

Needless to say, the stakes have never been higher, but I see a bright future for Finance. I’m excited for Finance to master “the basics” and instead place its emphasis on areas that best allow it to provide critical input on how their companies’ most important business decisions are expected to impact the future.