How to Conquer Digital Finance Transformation
07-03-2022 10 min read
Top 5 reasons to digitize finance are revealed in the latest Serrala survey
For global organizations, digital finance transformation is more than a buzzword. It is a necessary next step to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Older enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, such as SAP ECC, which were enthusiastically adopted decades ago are reaching their end of life. Studies show that a majority of these organizations (55%) are just starting to plan their digital transformation. At the same time, cloud-native and SaaS solutions are playing a much larger role in finance transformation. These solutions provide innovative capabilities that are fully digitized, always up to date, and maintenance-free.
In our 2022 survey on digital transformation, Serrala wanted to understand the perspective of finance and accounting leaders. Does finance transformation provide any benefits that they are excited to embrace? Are CFOs and their teams ready for the challenges ahead? Our results show that they are. Below is a summary of the top 5 takeaways from the Serrala Digital Finance Transformation Survey 2022.
1. Lack of Finance Transformation Strategy and Internal Resistance are Roadblocks; Adopting a Growth Mindeset is Essential for Success
According to our survey, organizations are facing two roadblocks when it comes to digital finance transformation: 49% lack a digital transformation strategy and 45% are facing internal resistance to change.
Certainly, these results reflect what we hear from our clients every day. After all, digital transformation is about more than just choosing the right technology – it’s about transforming the way you do business. In the fall of 2021, Serrala invited Nicola Boschetti, CFO of Microsoft Italy to share the lessons his organization learned during its digital transformation. His advice: take a phased approach, set achievable goals, and focus on delivering value at every step. According to Boschetti, “adopting a growth mindset is essential because business is changing at a pace that is much faster than in the past – we need to embrace the right tools to do everything we can to be in the front of the line.” If you are interested in learning more about the Microsoft digital finance transformation story, you can listen to it here.
2. Simplified Processes are the Top Driver for Digital Finance Transformation
More than half of survey respondents (55%) say that their current processes are too complex or are highly customized and that digital finance transformation will provide them with an opportunity to simplify and standardize the way they work. The high degree of process complexity seems to be driven by the mix of systems respondents use as part of their day-to-day business. Thirty-nine percent (39%) say that information is spread across multiple ERP systems and more than half (55%) need to manually collect finance data from multiple sources. Respondents also report that achieving real-time transparency and meeting global compliance requirements (38%) is difficult without a single view of finance data across the organization.
3. Cloud Technology is Viewed as More Scalable, Secure and Easier to Maintain
The rapid pace of finance transformation requires agile, adaptable solutions, which is why many organizations are embracing cloud-native solutions. Strategically, 50% say that moving finance technology to the cloud will enable them to meet their changing needs quickly and provide them with faster access to new features (28%). Technically, finance leaders overwhelmingly see the benefit of moving to the cloud. Existing systems are costly to maintain, according to 38% of survey respondents, while 53% of respondents say that they are looking at cloud-solutions because they are fast to implement, require less maintenance, and are more stable and secure (46%) than existing systems.
4. Every Department sees the Benefit of Digital Finance Transformation
The survey results show that organizations can benefit from digital transformation in every finance department. Across the board, organizations agree that they want to increase the speed and efficiency of finance operations and only a couple of percentage points separate the priorities of survey respondents based on their role or department. Our data shows that digitization and automation are an equal priority for cash application (41%), supplier management (41%), invoice processing (40%), payment processing (39%), and treasury and risk management (38%). Similarly, the desire to digitally transform privacy and compliance management (41%) was equally important for all respondents.
5. Artificial Intelligence will Automate Fraud Monitoring and Other Complex Processes
One of the most exciting possibilities with digital finance transformation will be the ability to use technology to automate very complex and rapidly evolving processes such as fraud monitoring. Our survey shows that 22% of respondents are concerned about the inability to instantly recognize fraud and only 20% use automated fraud checks. Modern finance solutions will make it much easier to take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically check every transaction for fraud on a 24x7 basis. Other possible use cases for finance technology include updating financial forecasts and plans based on actual data from AP or AR transactions or streamlining customer or vendor communications with automated service bots. Organizations will be able to use this new finance technology to eliminate “busy work” so they can focus their efforts on managing more strategic tasks that require a human touch, such as resolving invoice disputes or other exceptions.
These five takeaways demonstrate how new technology can fuel faster finance transformation and help organizations simplify processing, next-level automation, improved compliance, and tighter security. While roadblocks may occur, finance leaders should not get discouraged. Organizations can clearly see the promise of finance transformation and finance leaders should ensure their teams ready to embrace new ways of processing and new finance technology if they want to stay at the font of the line.
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