What effects is the digital transformation having on finance departments?
Philippe Gangneux – Over the last 20 years, the position of finance director was confined to a ‘support’ role that was removed from company strategy. Today, change is afoot and financial and administration directors are reinventing themselves. ‘Uberization’, the rise of new business models and fresh demands on his role has thrust the financial director into the bright lights. With new analytical tools, SaaS, BI (Business Intelligence), Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics, he can no longer simply clock off. Now he’s become a strategist who’s involved at every company level.
Is the financial director becoming a change-maker?
P.G. – Financial departments in many companies have already made the digital shift. The PwC survey, Chief Financial Officers – Priorities in 2017, published in January, highlighted the fact that 60% of financial directors interviewed were planning to develop their information systems in 2017.
Financial directors simply can’t afford to wait to do this now, without getting left behind. The onus is on them to take the initiative and sow the seeds of change within their organizations. The driving force has to be the recognition of the new opportunity this represents. Their moment has come to emerge as genuine business decision-makers, who will both lead the establishment of new business models within their companies and the oversight of day-to-day operations.
Does Artificial Intelligence represent an opportunity for CFOs?
P.G. – Artificial Intelligence isn’t just an opportunity, it’s a necessity. Over the last three years, the number of financial directors wishing to use Artificial Intelligence-based predictive software has steadily risen. The big digital players like Microsoft and Google have been investing for years in teams of data scientists responsible for developing monitoring solutions for cost-effectiveness and best use of resources. That kind of investment would be a burden for many companies. But not anymore.
Now we have alternatives, which allow us to benefit from Artificial Intelligence and the cost gains of Data Science. That’s the shining advantage of SaaS software solutions. They’re flexible, reactive platforms that adapt to a company’s requirements in real time. That’s why we refer today to ‘Data-as-a-Service’.
What advice do you have for financial directors?
P.G. – Act now and don’t delay! Financial directors have ahead the new challenges of developing data intelligence and becoming ambassadors for the potential of the key asset that data now means. Their success will require longer-term strategic thinking whilst juggling day-to-day activities in the context of the bigger picture.
Financial directors are now empowered to take the helm and get fully involved in the entire client life cycle. Their role now extends far beyond the mere collection of revenue. They’ve gained a macro-vision that enables them to communicate key information to the Sale and Marketing directors on customer behavior. Using Sidetrade’s solutions, they’ll be able to smoothly make this crucial transition.