In the fifth interview of our Digital Transformation of Finance series, APA (Accounts Payable Association) Partnerships Director, Mike Pavely talks about the role of new technology and innovation within the finance function and much more.
1. How is the role of the CFO evolving?
CFOs and senior finance personnel at all levels are having to become increasingly aware of the issues affecting their business performance beyond the historic yardsticks of financial performance. This presents an opportunity only to the extent that the CFO is responsive to new information and accurate perception of the issues affecting their business. Increasingly those CFOs who are sensitive to the role that new technology and innovations in the finance function will prevail against others who miss opportunities for their operation.
2. Finance has traditionally been viewed as a back-end function in the past. Do you see it having more of a strategic role in the organisation going forward, with more input into areas like product development?
Yes, more collaboration across departments and specifically in collaboration with suppliers to create more robust and adaptive solutions is going to only help position a company for survival/growth in the future.
3. When it comes to digital transformation, do you feel that the finance function is slower to adapt compared to other business departments?
Traditionally Yes but recent events have placed the finance function in the spotlight and given increasing importance to their overall contribution to EBITDA and business performance.
4. What do you see as the typical barriers to digital transformation in the finance function?
The sheer number of people who need to be involved sometimes. In other cases, the time to implement change or transformation programmes. Cost is also a factor but even against a clear ROI proposition, the workload involved can often stall adoption in many companies.
5. There have been many changes in finance in recent years. What do you consider to have been the biggest catalyst for transformation in the Finance function?
Increasing demand for information from all stakeholders both within and outside the company itself.
6. What impact, if any, do you think AI will have on the finance function?
Massive. Once understood and applied correctly AI will transform the nature of work for many in the finance function.
7. What technologies do you think will offer the biggest opportunity to the accounts payable/receivable functions?
Adaptive, scalable rapidly deployable solutions with low implementation time, ideally cloud-based and fully integrate with existing ERP frameworks with clear ROI will outstrip conventional software solutions over time.
8. As businesses are going global, how do you think technology could help to foster better relations between organisations and their international suppliers?
Improved communication and visibility of real-time data to empower effective decision-making are what technological advancements will deliver, combined with improved efficiencies and GRC protection.
9. According to the banking association of UK Finance, a total of £207.8m was lost to bank transfer fraud alone in the UK in the first half of 2020. What role will technology play in the battle against financial fraud?
A significant factor per the above statement. Shutting the loopholes and increasing security will help combat invoice fraud. Machine learning and adaptive AI are key to keeping up with the increasingly sophisticated fraud risks however in my opinion.
View previous interviews in the CFOpinion series:
- Ger O Sullivan, Chief Financial Officer, Fexco
- Laura Boué, Financial Controller, Aspirico
- Patrick Carr, Managing Director, Excella M.G.A.
- John Lynch, Finance Project Director, EY Ireland
CFOpinion explores the thoughts of CFOs and finance leaders on the topic of digital transformation of finance. Each week a CFO will offer their thoughts on matters like security, the role of AI in finance and how the finance function compares to other departments when it comes to digital transformation.
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