Technology is a strong driver of whether a company makes a profit or a loss. There is software to help a business streamline its processes and workflows; software can analyse worker productivity; and it can gather and analyse data on expenditure across an organisation. And then of course, there’s a raft of new and emerging technology to consider: AI, machine learning and IoT. But just because software can impact the financial health of a company, does this mean that it’s the responsibility of the CFO or finance director? Should they be looking into investigating tech for the business? Or should they be worrying about something else?
In its recent survey, Brainyard State of the CFO Role, NetSuite asked 166 CFOs about their involvement with technology and what aspects mattered to them. The results were intriguing, showing that they weren’t interested in a lot of the latest technologies. Instead, what mattered most to them was real-time data collection and ways of improving cash flow.
In fact, just under half of the respondents reported that they would not be working with the newer technologies, such as machine learning and blockchain, in the upcoming three years. While these technologies may well have an impact on the finances of a company, investigating their usefulness to the business lies more closely within the CTO or IT director’s realm of responsibility than the finance department’s.
But historically, finance heads have been the ones expected to be involved in decisions about the adoption of new technology. It’s partly because they have the expertise to evaluate return on investment, the impact to the bottom line, or the total cost of ownership of a new software or technology solution. But when it comes down to comparing functionality or investigating which software will integrate well with an existing implementation, that’s not so much within their capabilities.
So what technologies are CFOs interested in? When NetSuite asked CFOs how they intended to improve cashflow, the top answers indicated that they would: create and stick to a budget; create new revenue streams; and employ automated invoicing. They also said that when it came to technology, their greatest concern was finance and accounting software. This was followed by mobile technology, and then cyber security. The technology they were least interested in was blockchain.
While the headlines may be filled with mentions of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it seems that CFOs just aren’t interested in that. What matters more is the technology that can help them to understand what is going on in their businesses, and how that knowledge can help them to make better financial decisions.
And the more detailed answer, it seems, is that they are interested in technology that helps with real-time data collection. Having access to precise data and meaningful KPIs can show accurate stock levels, what the cash burn rate is, or the current value of unpaid invoices – and much more. In the current climate, advanced financial technology provides the much-needed data that helps input into critical board-level financial decisions – those that can make a business more profitable, improve efficiency and reduce risk.
Using technology as a driver of financial strength is ultimately the CFO’s responsibility. But they don’t care about the ins and outs of different technologies. What they are interested in is getting results for the business. So, software that can make that easier for them is the technology they are looking to harness.
One often-dreaded task for the finance department is the month-end and year-end close. Here’s where financial technology can really help. With NetSuite and an approved add-on, the close is greatly simplified and streamlined. To find out more, join us next week in our webinar on reconciliation in NetSuite. It’s on 8th September at 2pm. To register for your place, click here.
If you want help making the case for new financial technology, or would like a free business consultation or tailored quote, book an appointment now or contact us. With NetSuite, we can help make your relationship with technology far less complicated.