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5 Disruptive Tech Trends that Make Finance More Powerful

February 1, 2016 by Derek Klobucher 477

Think about how liberating new technology can be. Forget thoughts of costs and implementation time, and imagine new business processes that you’ve shaped with nothing but pure efficiency in mind.

A digital transformation will do more than let you soft close your books whenever you like, or help you pay your salespeople in new ways. It will keep you relevant with your customers — and against your competition.

“Every economy in the world is going digital,” Steve Lucas, president of SAP’s platform and analytics group, said at SAP TechEd last year. “If you want to participate in your respective digital economy, whatever digital economy that might be — agriculture or finance or manufacturing — you must become a digital enterprise.”

Digital transformation refers to the ways that organizations use “digital technologies to create enhanced customer-centric business models,” according to IDC Research and SAP. Here are five reasons why your organization should make its digital transformation:

1. Finance Can Rise Up with its Technology

“We are at the outset of a once-in-a-generation wave of innovation and transformation,” Thack Brown, general manager and global head for SAP’s Line of Business Finance, and Henner Schliebs, SAP VP and head of Finance Audience Marketing, stated last month.

This wave of digital transformation is enabling finance departments to evolve from mere bean counters into powerful enterprise partners, Brown and Schliebs wrote in SAPinsider. No longer constrained by technology, organizations are free to imagine — and implement — new processes that will optimize their performance in a fast-paced digital environment.

“In the not-so-distant past, an attempt at this type of transformation would have taken years and untold expense for little more than incremental improvements,” Brown and Schliebs said. “Today, with a fraction of both time and expense, the enterprise can leverage the tools it needs to completely rethink the business and make changes that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.”

2. Finance Is Turning into a Lean, Mean Strategic Machine

“With increased agility and the ability to work faster,” Martin Naraschewski, vice president of SAP’s Finance Solutions, stated, “we will see an accompanying change of skill sets needed in the finance organization.”

Massive service centers will give way to small groups of dedicated experts, for example, and integrated compliance solutions will help curb fraud, according to Naraschewski’s SAPinsider article. He also predicts that finance will become a strategic arm of the enterprise, helping organizations make wise choices — and quickly implement them.

3. Finance Will Be At the Center of the Action

The highly connected digital economy rewards visibility and immediacy, which means finance can no longer focus only on optimizing internal process, Drew Hofler, director of Solutions Marketing for SAP cloud and network solutions, andFriederike Hertenstein, SAP’s director of Accounts Payable Line-of-Business, Finance, stated in their recentSAPinsider article. As goods and services move along extended supply chains, finance must be at the center of a high-tech collaborative hub that connects buyers, suppliers and partners.

“A real-time platform removes traditional barriers and presents almost limitless opportunities to engage and interact,” Hofler and Hertenstein said. “When the walls between procurement, finance and trading partners are torn down, finance can … start on the path toward becoming a strategic partner that provides a customer-centric, service-first engagement in the business network.”

4. Finance Can Transform without a Full-Scale Upgrade

Many finance organizations are excited about digital transformation — and the prospect of evolving new processes — but some of them aren’t able to undertake the standard deployment path, according to Carsten Hilker, the Global Solution Owner for Central Finance at SAP. His SAPinsider article describes a fast track they can take toward innovation.

“While there is an implementation process … this generally requires a fraction of the time and resources needed for a full-scale upgrade,” Hilker said. “And it can be rolled out incrementally based on the needs of the organization.”

5. Finance Will Enjoy Unlimited Possibilities

“A rigid, inflexible system may have been the expectation a decade or two ago,” Chris Horak, SAP’s global vice president of Finance Line-of-Business Solution Marketing. “But in the existing business climate that same system is like a heavy anchor weighing a company down.”

Legacy systems are a liability when price points, customer demand, exchange rates and other variables are fluctuating wildly, Horack stated in his SAPinsider article. The digital economy moves in real time, and organizations that can’t keep pace will miss out on new lines of credit, acquisitions and major investments — and they will fall behind their competition, which has made a digital transformation.

“The possibilities really are limited only by imagination,” Horak said. “It is not difficult to envision an endless array of applications that have the potential to impact an entire industry model.”

Embrace Your Digital Future

What new business process did you imagine at the beginning of this story?

Now imagine every single employee being able to search an entire organization in real time for new insights, problems and solutions.

“You have the ability to manage your company in a completely different way,” SAP Executive Board Member Bernd Leukert said during his keynote address at SAP TechEd last year. “There are no PowerPoints anymore; there are no back-office people preparing pages of documents; we run and we analyze our business in real time.”

You can too. And now is the time to make it happen.

Follow Derek on Twitter: @DKlobucher

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.
Top image via Shutterstock

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4 comments

  1. Srinivas Jonnavittula

    Good one. It’s interesting to see how the back office function like Finance is able to come to the front office. Whenever I engage with the customers, I always try to drill-back from their Financial statements to the operational data. I am sure with the digital core of S/4 HANA, customers cannot only create current and forward looking statements, but can also simulate the forward from the existing data sets by drilling back, like, in backward integration. Thanks

  2. Derek Klobucher

    Good point, Srinivas! Predictive capabilities have been a huge selling point for this solution — and a tremendous differentiator for its users!

  3. Subrata

    Excellent read. Defines what digital means to the Finance LoB in a lucid manner.

  4. Derek Klobucher

    Thank you very much, Subrata! That’s exactly what I was trying to accomplish, so I appreciate this feedback.

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