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Research reveals finance wants to direct its own digital and data literacy futures

by wrich

MHR research shows that finance professionals acknowledge the need to boost digital change to improve their agility and resilience 

22 July 2021 – A research report from financial performance management and business intelligence consultancy, MHR Analytics shows that finance teams want to be in control of their own digital and data futures, rather than being led by IT or external consultants. This desire to boost digital literacy comes as the pandemic has highlighted the need for finance to be able to respond more quickly in a crisis to minimise business risk and make the most of new opportunities. 

The research with senior finance professionals shows that 85% of respondents are keen to drive digital transformation and data literacy in their departments to help them successfully navigate business change with just over a quarter of respondents admitting they wouldn’t be able to respond quickly enough to a significant event. It also showed processes such as budgeting, planning, and forecasting, and accounts receivable were impacted the most by the pandemic for almost 70% of respondents, thereby shining a light on the need for agility and resilience when faced with a challenging business environment. 

Respondents also acknowledged that reluctance or delays to embracing digital change may have a negative impact on the finance team, with strategic insight and productivity levels hindered the most. Reporting delays, data accuracy issues and not being able to retain and attract new talent were also cited as issues which will continue to cause problems for finance if it’s slow to adapt and drive forward digital transformation initiatives. 

Nick Felton, Chief Sales Officer, MHR said: “The finance team has often been accused of lagging behind other business functions when it comes to digital transformation and identifying and quantifying the business case for change is no easy task. However, as our research shows, finance has acknowledged that standing still really isn’t an option. 

“These research findings highlight finance’s ambition to own its own digital change and finance systems, including data analytics. Finance is best placed to lead the charge for transforming slow and laborious processes, as the events of the past 18 months have shown the importance of being able to make quick decisions, based on the availability of real time and accurate data. 

“Adopting a digital first approach and learning new data and tools skills all take time, but it’s refreshing to see that finance is keen to progress change themselves, without relying on the support of IT or external third parties. It’s crucial that finance continues to progress its adoption of digital technologies and ensure it’s leveraging the full functionality of the tools it already uses, to achieve better business insights and to help the case for wider transformative technology adoption in the future.” 

The research also reveals the technologies most widely adopted by finance to help them boost visibility on costs and business performance, including tools to support extended planning and analytics (xP&A) strategies and Business Intelligence/analytics software. Other growth areas include wider adoption of financial consolidation and financial close software as teams look to boost productivity. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) also continues to grow in popularity with finance, and this technology trend looks set to continue.

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