The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants released a report Friday on the need for CFOs to develop technology roadmaps for their organizations to stay competitive in the global market.

The report, Race for Relevance: Technology opportunities for the finance function, discusses the various technology opportunities and challenges facing CFOs, including advice from finance leaders around the world on how to drive long-term corporate value from the latest digital advances.

“CFOs need to develop a roadmap that enables them to recognize the short-term benefits and the longer-term gains,” said Kizan International CFO Kathy Liu, an ACCA member who contributed to the report. “They need to accept that with these technologies it is often better to fail fast and be able to move on, rather than to not try at all. The core elements of people, processes, technology and data thread through any activity. Addressing each of these within an organizational culture that supports innovation and creativity is important for harnessing emerging technologies.”

The report recommends CFOs develop a better understanding of how their organizations can use technology to achieve their company’s wider goals and ambitions. CFOs should build a business case for using specific tools and technologies to make better use of data and analytics in finance and other functions. In building the business case for technology investments, the survey found that 70 percent of the respondents said technology in the finance function can improve productivity, while 53 percent said technology in the finance function can create new value in the business. They should focus on building talent with the right technology skills and assess the impact of technology on governance and risk management to make sure technology is properly monitored and controlled. CFOs also need to invest in staff training, cybersecurity controls and change-management processes, according to the report.

ACCA business case for technology investment for finance

ACCA warned that finance leaders who don’t take advantage of the opportunities could be marginalized and left out of the strategic decision-making process. They need to understand how technology can help transform the finance function, while considering the impact of technologies such as robotic process automation, cloud computing, analytics, social media, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, along with the opportunities they present.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.