FSN’s “Future of Finance Systems” Survey 2019 provides a fascinating insight into the challenges of setting the most appropriate course for financial systems in one of the most turbulent and disruptive periods in our professional lives. There is widespread agreement that financial systems are doing little more than the rudimentary job of processing transactions, containing costs and complying with regulation. Only 50% of this survey’s respondents said that finance systems can be considered strategically important, with the ability to deliver competitive insights.
The research also exposed the gap in our knowledge about the systems available and what they do. Worse still many do not have the time to investigate new opportunities for process innovation, standardization and automation. So around 46% of finance functions have to contend with what they have, unable to make big strides forward. This is of course markedly at odds with the rampant changes all around us. The survey strongly signals the possibility that many finance functions will get left behind, by market forces and strong competition.
However, those finance functions that have commenced their migration journey from legacy systems have found enormous benefit from cloud-based processing. Only 17% of survey participants said the cloud did not deliver the benefits they were expecting and an astonishing 92% will invest either completely or partially in cloud technology over the next 5 years. That is quite a turnaround from just a few years ago and, encouragingly, almost 60% will change and improve their processes as part of their migration to the cloud. This is significantly up on the last time that FSN asked the question.
Different sizes of organization have a different attitude to cloud deployment (public, private or hybrid) as well as the systems architectures they prefer, for example, best of breed, unified application suites or some hybrid combination. Whichever route they take, the shortage of digital skills could serve as a significant brake on progress, with the majority of finance functions not investing enough in training and development of suitable finance talent.
Analytic capability built-in to applications and opportunities for advanced automation remain top of mind for CFOs. Speed-to-insight remains supremely important in challenging market conditions.
We hope that you find the survey’s findings set out in this document thought-provoking and interesting. But above all we hope that the contents of this report together with FSN’s 2019 “Innovation Showcase” released earlier this year, will inspire you to explore and discuss the future of finance systems in your own organization with your colleagues.
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