To understand how critical automation is becoming to modern finance, take a look at the shift in what skills are highly valued for new hires. In a survey of CFOs*, three years ago 78% of CFOs said the most important skill was proficiency with Excel. Last year, only 5% of CFOs listed Excel as the top skill. So, what are CFOs looking for as they build their teams? The ability to adapt to new technologies.
Automation is becoming the norm in business, especially in areas like marketing, HR, and, most recently, in finance. As such, flexibility and adaptability are now necessary, if not imperative, assets—with speed and efficiency being the desired results. Additionally, an upgrade in technology and developing of professional skills are now at the forefront of companies’ new initiatives. For this reason, the ability to master new technologies is exactly what a modern company expects from its new recruits, and the finance team is no exception.
Today, automation in finance is mainly utilised to carry out manual tasks that are traditionally considered to be low-value, such as data entry, verification, and reconciliation. These tasks are generally spreadsheet-based and tend to be tedious and repetitive, as well as time-consuming. This is powerful, considering that as much as 34% of a financial manager’s time could be automated by adopting technology, according to a study** by McKinsey Global Institute. But two key drivers are pushing CFOs to automate even more: the increasing complexity and volume of the data to be evaluated, and the urgency with which results are needed.
The power of automation
In today’s “age of urgency,” the ability to make informed decisions quickly is a competitive advantage. For CFOs, automation represents an opportunity to impact the day to day work of finance, but more important, an opportunity to enable corporate agility by playing a greater role in strategy and decision support. Cracking the stereotypes of finance as back-office number crunchers, automation allows finance teams to leave time-consuming, manual tasks behind so they can focus on higher value work and become strategic partners to the business. Additionally, faster and higher-quality insights lead to more accurate reporting and planning, which increase overall productivity across the organization.
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