Technology is constantly evolving and sometimes it can be hard to keep up. However, new innovations improve your businesses operations and efficiently allow employees to focus on strategic priorities instead of the management of ongoing business functions.What are the must-have technologies for finance executives? First, identify the challenges your organization is facing, the desired outcome and then identify a solution that will best benefit your business, allowing you to spend less time on process, and more time on increasing profits or reducing expenses. Below, we’ve gathered our top six technology picks.
1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
One of the biggest challenges facing finance executives today is the ability to oversee, manage and control all of the financial data that’s being collected throughout the organization. Investing in a quality ERP system provides predictability, control and a single access point for all financial data.
Once the finance system is established – the core - in your ERP system, other departments such as production, sales and operations can upload relevant information. Using on premise or cloud based solutions that can include a software-as-a-service (SaaS) component simplifies the maintenance and management of your business’ data. Finance executives can spend time analyzing facts and figures, adding value to financial forecasting and budgeting instead of managing data collection.
2. Big Data Analytics Technology
The availability of data, the quality of data and the volume of data that lives in your organization is increasing. Finance executives are constantly challenged to provide predictable, relevant, cost-effective solutions for business through the appropriate management of seemingly endless amounts of data being collected. Accounts receivable reports, budget updates and unaccounted-for expense reimbursements represent only a small portion of daily information presented to finance executives. It’s overwhelming.
The implementation of data analytics technology allows financial executives to collect and organize data, analyze and predict financial trends, and control policy and procedure. This saves time, increases productivity and provides meaningful information to your CEO and board of directors, ensuring a proactive approach toward future business decisions.
3. Convergence Technology
Convergence technology is redefining the architecture of how business systems work together. Instead of technologies like voice and data, for example, working as separate units, convergence technology utilizes the sharing of resources, allowing these elements to interact with each other. This “convergence” of technologies works together to increase overall business process alignment.
This is good news for finance executives. Through the process of convergence, information technologies (IT) and operations can collaborate to bring clear advantages to the business; cost and risk reduction, increased compliance and regulatory control, enhanced performance and increased flexibility will create more controlled, efficient processes – ultimately saving time and money.
4. API Economy
Including application programming interface (API) technology could prove be financially beneficial to businesses. A recent article in CFO touted the increased efficiencies that the API economy would provide to finance executives stating, “Opening up your transaction systems and data stores…so that you can collaborate better with everyone in your business ecosystem has a lot of positive possibilities for productivity and efficiency. Find whatever capability you need easily; reuse other people’s assets rather than duplicate them…”
Utilizing technology associated with the API economy can help finance executives communicate more efficiently with customers and vendors, increasing productivity and efficiency within the business. Before jumping into the API economy, be sure data usage parameters are clearly defined and control and compliance remains intact.
5. Blockchain Technology
The muscle behind the Bitcoin phenomena, Blockchain technology is being explored by large businesses as a way to innovate and update age-old accounting systems. At the moment, Blockchain is a “…public ledger that uses a decentralized, mathematically encrypted network of computer nodes to verify and record transactions.” Through this process, the “ledger” is updated in real-time and leaves a record of all transactions. A recent article from CFO magazine reported that Goldman Sacks and Citibank are among the large financial institutions already exploring this technology and its potential uses for their business.
Finance executives need to pay close attention as this technology becomes more mainstream. The CFO article goes on to say that Blockchain technology “…allows for a scalable and secure ledger with unlimited account creation and programmable, trackable money,” providing real-time tracking of expenditures, payment data and increased security.
6. Predictive Analytics
Finance executives must consider predictive analytics when assessing their current technology needs. Using predictive analytics technology takes data that’s already being collected within the company and analyzes it to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. This provides invaluable information to influence business strategy.
In a recent Grant-Thornton study, businesses surveyed stated that finance executives that use predictive analysis are “…better aligned with unfolding business strategy, are more effective at business analysis, derive greater value from their budgeting processes, and have more reliable forecasts than those who do not use them…” giving finance executives added time to prioritize overall business goals and manage the financial functions of the business.
The amount of information that’s available for finance executives is continually increasing. Global competition motivates businesses to do more with less and technology can help. It is critically important for execs to research and discern what systems and emerging technologies best fit their business needs; then work to prioritize technology, assess appropriate monetary and talent needs, gain approval and work to implement efficient systems, saving valuable time within the organization. And more importantly, work to ensure financial management efficiency and in turn, overall business success.