When Phoenician merchants recorded trade transactions on earthen tablets 5,000 years ago, the finance function was born. As technology evolved over centuries, earthen tablets were replaced by new-age digital tools, reshaping every aspect of how a finance team functions. With the pace of digital disruption quickened by the crisis of pandemic, what does the future hold for finance leaders and CFOs from here on?
The role of a CFO is clearly on the brink of a technology revolution. From cloud computing and Robotics Process Automation (RPA) to data analytics and cognitive technologies, a slew of new-age digital disruptors is transforming how CFOs and finance teams get the work done. With digital intervention gaining pace, finance applications and microservices are proliferating, which in turn is drastically reducing the complexities and cost of implementing technology by notches.
We must, however, consider Global Business Service (GBS) in finance as a transformation factory, or a partner, leveraging the cross capabilities between different functions, such as finance, IT, supply chain service, etc. Using data analytics, these connected functions can bring greater value to businesses. Connecting finance with other siloed business functions with the help of technology can significantly improve an organization's agility quotient in decision making, launching of new products and services, or in proactive action in case of a crisis.
One plus one equals three
For the pivotal role finance plays in an organization, leveraging automation and RPA have become necessities for finance leaders in the digital age to derive actionable insights in real-time with zero latency. But developing these capabilities in-house can be a long and arduous journey for finance leaders. Collaboration is a must to scale up technology set up quickly with the rapidly changing times.
Everything, after all, cannot be done in-house. Leveraging external vendors as strategic partners to grow together to impact a digital revolution. When the expertise of external partners adds on to existing client capabilities, solutions thus created can also help other functions internally to transform digitally and create better customer products based on quality and compliance.
With hyper-automation as a key area of interest and having implemented large key projects across geographies, Philips is leading by example. The high-level innovation roadmap charted out by the company uniquely positions its finance leaders to deliver innovation in the GBS space. The company has now embarked on the largest ever RPA programs in the market in partnership with Infosys, deploying over 550 RPA bots across 6 regions globally, in record 18 months.
CFO is the new CEO
Along with effective technology integration in finance, connectivity with the internal ecosystem is also extremely important. What we did for an American telecom company is a case in point here. We were able to move the whole ecosystem to be a connected network of networks, by consolidating about 7 ERP systems and over 500 users. The centralized data visualization thus enabled, allowed us to process about $80 billion in payments and over 400,000 transactions, establishing a strong link between digitally transformed finance functions and key business metrics.
The CFO thus becomes the nerve centre of an enterprise, connecting employees, customers, stakeholders, all on one platform. The anytime, anywhere visibility of data that comes with a connected organization, will also empower CFOs with real-time responses. This fusion of mind power and digital brain has the potential to transform organizations into a Live Enterprise that is sentient, agile, intuitive, and evolving. The Live Enterprise suite of tools and platforms is enabling 360° visualization of futuristic insights and prescriptive solutions, making CFO organizations more agile in collaborating, responding, and making decisions.
As a finance leader, this ability to visualize the impact is most important. Pervasive visibility of data insights is crucial in informing future strategies of CFOs. In a world where change is a daily occurrence and disruption is the norm, CFOs have quickly realized that analytics can no longer be approached as a discrete function. To create a connected, insights-driven organization, analytics must turn into a core capability across the enterprise. Leveraging real-time insights with 360° visibility across functions, finance teams are enabling organizations to amplify business value and drive lasting change. The future presents another new frontier for finance to learn, evolve, and grow its branches like a living organism. The future is Live Enterprise.
Vinay Gopala Rao
VP and Strategic Business Practice Head - Finance and Accounting, Infosys BPM
A Chartered Accountant who holds a Diploma in Information Systems Audit, Vinay has over 27+ years of experience in the finance industry, of which 17 years were spent extensively in the practice of subjects such as Accounts, Audit, Taxation and Corporate Law. In Vinay’s current role as a Strategic Business Practice Head for F&A practice, he manages over 14000+ F&A professionals working across 28 centers globally. In his past role, he headed the largest F&A client with 2800 employees across 10 delivery centers providing end-to-end finance transformation. And prior to that, he was the Global Head of Risk and Compliance and Finance Centre of Excellence for Infosys BPM’s F&A Practice. Vinay is a member of GRB, The Institute of Internal Auditors (Florida, USA), Employee Engagement Council and IBPM Policy council. He is also, a Certified Global Business Leader from Stanford (USA). Previously, Vinay was a member of the Infrastructure Council and Operations Council.