From supply chains to travel to life in general, just about everything slowed down dramatically during the COVID-19 crisis. But one phenomenon never stopped; in fact, it intensified: technological advancement.
Be it in the form of wireless connectivity, automation, machine learning or video conferencing tools, technology was heavily relied upon throughout the pandemic to help businesses, schools, health care centers and business employees overcome the challenges the pandemic created. Based on workers’ feedback and many companies’ overall performance, technological innovation proved its mettle. To cite just one example, 33% of remote workers — who adopted a 100% work-from-home model during COVID — would consider quitting their jobs altogether if their employers require them to return to the office full-time, according to a recent poll conducted by Robert Half.
The indispensability of tech in the achievement of goals — and the generation of overall productivity — may explain why finance teams, in particular, are aiming to prioritize and optimize digital capabilities in 2021, according to a recent report from Gartner.
In a poll of approximately 173 chief financial officers from around the world, more than 80% of respondents said advanced data analytics and tools represent something they intended to focus more on in 2021, Gartner found. But in order to maximize these capabilities, finance teams must know how to use those solutions effectively. Thus, 60% of CFOs in the Gartner study noted that accelerating their teams’ digital capabilities was also atop their agendas.
Alexander Bant, chief of research for the finance division at Gartner, said tech tools are only as good as the individuals and practitioners using them.
“Digital transformation is a two-part equation involving not only the technologies themselves, but also ensuring they have the staff who know how, when, where and why to leverage these new technologies,” Bant explained.
CFOs turning away from manual and toward AI
One way finance teams intend to leverage tech is in terms of time management: in other words, by reducing manual processes or eliminating them entirely. In a separate poll conducted jointly by CFO Research and AppZen, 90% of the senior finance executives and CEOs questioned said minimizing time-consuming accounting processes was a main objective for them moving forward. Despite the fact that more efficient tools are out there that don’t require as much legwork — such as AI-based invoice processing and expense auditing — just 41% of CFOs said they were currently taking advantage of them. As a result, almost 45% said processing an invoice from beginning to end typically took them up to seven days or more.
Distributed ledger technology
Another capability finance teams plan on utilizing to a far greater extent is distributed ledgers. These digital systems record various transactions and synchronize them across a shared network. This way, anyone who has access to the system can see the updated changes in real time. Tasks like tax collection, tax preparation, property deeds and social benefit distribution are all functions that distributed ledger technology can make more efficient and less time consuming. Not only accounting functions are affected, manufacturers can leverage distributed ledger technology for order fulfillment, inventory management and the like. In the CFO Survey Report, 40% of respondents expressed regret they hadn’t invested more in distributed ledger technology in the previous five years.
While cloud-based technology is nothing new, businesses of all sizes are using it like never before, especially with the successes that derived from remote work environments during the COVID lockdowns.
Efrian Rivera, CFO for the human resources outsourcing firm Paychex, told Forbes the cloud has made it possible for staff to access data from wherever they are, and on any device. Paired with AI, finance professionals can “spend more time on value-added work, such as analyzing the data and drawing useful insights.”
Bottom line: Technology allows more businesses to get more done in less time. That’s what makes enterprise resource planning tools like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central so special. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central combines all the productivity tools to manage finances and streamline operations so you can thrive. The TM Group can help you leverage technology better. Contact us today to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and all it can do for your business in 2021 and beyond.