By Gavin Fallon, General Manager at Board


From the many discussions we have here at Board with finance leaders everyday, there is one theme that continues to resonate consistently in each conversation. Finance leaders frequently tell us, that if last year they were focused on reducing the cost of operations, to ensure their enterprises survived the biggest business challenge in a generation posed by a global pandemic, what’s changed today, is they are now being challenged more than ever, to focus on funding growth through new technology and business models.

Enterprises now expect revenue to return to or exceed pre-pandemic levels and expect their office of finance to be a major stakeholder in driving the recovery. The C-suite demands acceleration of the digital enterprise, growth, and new genuinely transformative business models as a number one strategic priority. They expect their finance leaders to play a crucial role in making this all happen.

This return to an emphasis on transformation, as well as managing and restoring enterprise financial health, creates a whole new set of challenges, and pressures on finance leaders which have wide-ranging implications across the complete office of finance function.

Gavin Fallon

If the C-suite expect digital technology to transform their industries and are racing to accelerate the execution of these plans, then it’s clear the office of finance will have to rise to the challenge too and transform at pace.

Last year showed the importance of being agile and setting-up the enterprise to be constantly ready to pivot products and services to new opportunities, customers, and sources of demand. In this context, planning and budgeting previously undertaken once a year, is simply not fit for purpose, as inflexible budgets hinder enterprises from exploiting new opportunities as they happen.

Despite all this, many enterprises continue to run traditional finance processes using outdated technology, in some cases with vital strategic plans still run using basic spreadsheets. Progressive Finance leaders know a change is needed, with more sophisticated insights and planning capabilities to be able to change and keep on changing, plan for the unexpected, and generate new meaningful insights, beyond traditional budgeting processes, to always plan and be ready for new opportunities when they arrive.

We also know from talking with many CFOs, that they are keen to embrace the opportunity to invest in the latest finance technology that enables their teams to deliver best value for the business. Inevitably this means exploiting the biggest asset for business in the digital age. Data.

Data is the fuel for the acceleration of the digital enterprise. The highest transformative value of data comes by enabling and empowering the finance function to unlock and generate insights from data which business leaders can use to make game-changing decisions.

The problem is that the office of finance potentially lacks the expertise to get under the skin of the data, and perform the deep analysis required to drive the business forward. What this means in practice is finance is being challenged to generate insights that business leaders can use to make decisions, but perhaps doesn’t always have the professional data scientists or technical knowhow across the office of finance to make this happen.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The opportunity exists today for finance leaders to democratise access to intelligence, analytics and planning delivered via the cloud, to provide a genuine empowering and transformative experience across finance teams. This in turn reduces a reliance on the office of finance for repetitive and routine finance tasks and instead frees them up to focus on high value analytics and insights generation demanded of them to help accelerate the digital enterprise.

Fundamental transformative finance capabilities need to be deployed securely at scale, this means accelerating cloud adoption of insights, analytics, with planning technology like Board, with expertise in handling large volumes of data, who will ensure the speed, trust and robustness of the insights being provided.

Finance may have shifted many activities to the cloud already but must continue to demonstrate value in scaling processes to support strategic business priorities. Similarly, we know there are many finance leaders who know they must spend less time fixing the basics and more time on leading the digital finance function of the future, but it’s clear that to do so, the finance function itself needs to be subject to the similar transformation asked of the rest of the enterprise.

There is a huge opportunity for finance leaders to play a leading role in shaping the future of the digital enterprise and make the office of finance the natural home of data, the digital enterprise’s most strategic asset. Yet to do so, implies big change in some organisations, including a bold new focus on analysing, planning and reporting on what the future could look like, rather than being satisfied to report on the past, and a shift in talent, qualifications and mindset to become a true digital champion and transform the digital finance function of the future.

These are big questions, with far reaching implications for acceleration of the digital enterprise and the future of the finance function as we know it today. The even bigger question is, are finance leaders ready to rise to the challenge? It’s precisely this question and more, which we are asking in major upcoming Board research to over 500 Finance leaders across major industries worldwide. We look forward to sharing our findings when ready, in the coming months ahead.


About the author

Gavin Fallon, General Manager, Board

Gavin Fallon is the General Manager for Northern Europe, Middle East, India and Africa at Board International. Gavin is responsible for driving the businesses strategy in these regions, working with the teams across the organisation to ensure success. With more than 20 years’ experience, Gavin has spent the last 19 years at Board International working in roles including Head of Services & Consulting and Product Director. Prior to joining Board International he worked as a consultant for SDG Business Consultants. With his passion and experience, Gavin is widely considered an expert in the application of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) across sales and operations.


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