Finance’s role in digital transformation goes beyond simply signing a check. The organization’s own digital transformation can help facilitate a greater transformation across the company. Unfortunately, a recent study from The Hackett Group indicates that most Finance organizations don’t know where to start. A video collaboration solution offers an easy way to begin the digital transformation.
“This study shows an emerging problem within finance organizations. They recognize the tremendous potential to change the way they operate. But in this early stage of the digital revolution they are struggling to determine how to move forward, and how to truly attain the greatest benefit,” said The Hackett Group Senior Research Director Nilly Essaides. “There’s a significant opportunity for companies that can figure this out and make the necessary changes to technology, processes and people.”
To help Finance teams seize this opportunity, The Hackett Group outlines four strategic initiatives that Finance should embrace in 2017.
Support the Organization’s Strategy
According to the report, “Finance must improve its analytics ability and access to information using digital technologies such as collaborative planning tools and advanced analytics.”
For this to work, Finance teams must break out of their organizational silos. Data sharing between cross-functional departments helps enhance teamwork, improves communication, and creates a culture of continuous improvement. With a video collaboration solution, Finance staff can build relationships with cross-functional teams regardless of where they are located or when they meet.
As part of improving their analytics ability, Finance organizations need to go beyond parsing through the quantitative data to understanding the qualitative input as well. Finance can fall prey to the “number crunchers” they are known for being, but the anecdotal evidence is often what changes strategies within organizations. A face-to-face video call can be as easy as making a traditional voice call, but far more effective. The ability to read their colleagues’ expressions and body language can help Finance staff ensure that they’re getting honest answers even to their toughest questions.
Confront Cost Pressures
“In reaction to tighter budgets and a riskier business landscape, Finance must become more efficient through strategies such as moving activities to a shared services environment. This will lay the foundation for deploying existing staff into higher-value tasks,” writes the report’s authors.
A move to a shared services environment should be preceded by efforts to move finance out of the shadows, as shadow IT is the least efficient way to invest in new technology. Infosecurity reported on a study conducted by Skyhigh Networks, Inc. The cloud security company found that “the average finance employee uses 31 distinct cloud services, including eight collaboration services, five file sharing services, three social media services and three content media sharing services.”
Though it may seem easier to simply expense these cloud services on a corporate credit card, centralizing the purchase of technology through IT has a few, very significant benefits. The most obvious is the cost. While the per-user cost for these services in typically nominal, when you multiply it by 31 services and then by every Finance employee, the fees accumulate quickly. In addition, IT can take a company-wide view and look for integration points with these technologies, further facilitating data sharing and communication.
Prepare for Digital Transformation
The Hackett Group also advises Finance organizations to focus on preparing for digital transformation, and “its impact on the company’s and its own performance and service delivery model.”
This may necessitate considering tech-savvy candidates when making new hires. In order to improve your chances of finding this talent, you may need to open your talent pool by using video interviewing—even for your CFO. Using video collaboration technology to interview candidates allows organizations to still get the benefits of a face-to-face interview without either the candidate or the company having to invest valuable resources to meet in person.
Reshape the Talent Profile in Finance
Finally, The Hackett Group advises Finance organizations to focus on analytical and business-partnering skills when building a talent profile, which “are needed to handle a more digital and competitive business environment.”
When hiring new staff members—and building existing staff’s skillsets—expand your criteria to include communication and collaboration skills. These “soft” skills are critical to ensuring Finance’s success as the organization is increasingly called on to participate on cross-functional teams that routinely collaborate to drive better business decisions and outcomes.
Conducting initial interviews via video conference rather than the telephone, can enable CFOs and hiring managers to better gauge a candidate’s communication skills. Does the candidate make eye contact? Does the candidate appear engaged or distant? Are they conducting themselves professionally, even when calling in remotely? These factors can make a difference in your employees’ ability to collaborate. The sooner you can identify whether a candidate has these traits, the more time you save vetting them.
By starting with a focus on the organization’s strategy, working with IT to invest wisely in collaboration, and then using those collaboration tools (like video conferencing) to find and hire the right talent, Finance can lead the charge in an organization’s digital transformation. Change is not for the faint of heart. But stepping out in front of this inevitable shift allows Finance to rise above the stigma as “number crunchers” to become integral to the success of the organization.