Perhaps it should go without saying, but the digital transformation initiatives that companies have driven in the past several years have resulted in real, financial impact. According to one study, the companies that have led in terms of digital transformation investment outperformed their lagging peers by five times.
These efforts have also become more closely aligned with business objectives. Early digital transformation projects were often treated like science projects that tested the efficacy and possibilities of new technologies, but increasingly, with core functions that center on the strategic planning process, the CFO has become a driver of transformation.
So what does that mean when companies face significant business risks like inflationary pressures, labor shortages, and banking uncertainties? One might assume these influences would slow down transformation efforts, but 98% of CFOs intend to protect digital investments, and 66% plan to increase them, according to Gartner.
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Historically, this transformation investment was earmarked to a limited group of core processes. For instance, online account management in financial services or asset efficiency and throughput in manufacturing. At the same time, within the finance function, many of the early transformation initiatives were meant to reduce costs by automating repetitive tasks.
We are seeing a transition to more strategic initiatives. As Chris Wright, Global Leader, Business Performance Improvement, Protiviti recently put it, “the CFO has earned a seat at the strategic table.”
Given that successful organizations target more than twice as many business processes for digital transformation, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the emphasis has shifted from trying technology to scaling transformation.
But, there is much further to go. Whereas most executives think it is possible to automate at least 25% of organizational tasks over the next five years, less than 20% say their organizations have already scaled automation technologies.
What can you do to drive scale?
There are two fundamentals to driving process automation:
- Better understand the processes that you have – Uncover, visualize, and improve how work gets done, and document the steps in these processes. This enables you to identify your most critical processes, understand the current steps (as well as identify better processes), and recognize where automation can help.
- Automate to improve performance – Processes can be complex, and automation can potentially leverage multiple functional capabilities including forms, workflow, robotic process automation, document generation, and eSignature capabilities. In some cases, the primary benefit might be derived from a single capability. In others, a company might need to coordinate a combination. The bottom line is that there are huge efficiencies to be gained through the application of process automation.
Ultimately, the CFO can help to drive this strategy by ensuring that digital transformation initiatives align to business objectives for productivity and organizational agility. In addition, it is key to ensure there is a plan for scale that leverages the four pillars of transformation: people, process, data and technology.
Interested in hearing more? Sign up for the on-demand webinar, “The CFO’s Digital Transformation Playbook: The changing role of the CFO in driving transformation.” Sharing their perspectives on the CFO’s involvement in digital transformation and process automation, this discussion leverages insights from Darshan Jain, Financial Services Practice Leader, Nintex; Chris Wright, Global Leader, Business Performance Improvement, Protiviti; and Sami Chaudhury, CFO, Nielsen Gracenote & Analytics Portfolio.