In this environment, CFOs will be expected to lead the company through challenges, outmanoeuvre the competition, and emerge stronger on the other side. This requires finance leaders to be agile, prioritize in new ways, and rethink what is possible in terms of technology and processes. CFOs and their teams will not only bring together the power of data and technology to eliminate data silos, but also reinvent processes to streamline and simplify data access and decision-making.

CFOs have traditionally been focused on digital transformation within finance.

But today, they are more broadly focused on enterprise-wide innovation. Over the next year, IT and finance will need to work together to harness new technology effectively. As both the CFO and CIO roles evolve to focus on creating business value, trust and collaboration between these two leaders will be paramount to continued success, especially in an uncertain environment.

Financial integrity and risk management will continue to be table stakes for the organisation, but as the role of finance evolves to be more strategic and agile, the ability to find, analyse, and mine terabytes of data for insights will be in equal demand to more traditional financial skills.

Data is one of any organisation’s most valuable assets, and how you harness that power matters.

Data science recruitment challenge

Every CFO will be on the lookout for top talent in data science – from data analytics to data management – as well as skills in the fields of AI, ML, and data storytelling.

Employees want to do meaningful work. For finance and accounting teams, that means doing more than manual data input or living in spreadsheets five days a week. In today’s talent market where skilled finance workers are at a premium, more than ever, employee experience will be paramount to building—and retaining—a skilled and agile finance team.

When accounting teams leverage technology to automate manual processes, they can instead focus on more meaningful work like identifying trends from the data to help the business understand the “why” behind the numbers. Investing in technologies that automate core processes and streamline user experience will help hire and retain high-demand talent.

Zero-day close: the ultimate goal

Traditionally, reconciling financial statements at the end of a reporting period—whether monthly, quarterly, or annually—has been a labour-intensive process that can take weeks to complete. But one of accounting’s most ambitious goals is aiming to change that: zero-day close, leveraging continuously available, up-to-date information to close the books at any time.

While a zero-day close is the ultimate goal, it’s the journey to this goal that will result in incremental day-to-day process improvements – such as automating manual data entry for invoices or manual journal creation – to truly advance the finance function. Automating processes not only enables us to get information into the hands of decision makers faster, but it also increases the quality of information that is reported because we have time for more analysis.

While accounting has traditionally been considered a numbers-only profession, digital transformation and automation will enable us to surface and share real-time insights and delve deeper into the “why” behind the numbers. These insights will help identify critical business opportunities and threats, ultimately enabling more strategic decision-making. Our value as accountants will be demonstrated by our ability to communicate and collaborate with other business functions to help enable data-driven decisions.