By Hanady Khalife
We are at the dawn of an industrial revolution and it is nothing like the three that preceded it. It’s an era of accelerated technological progress characterised by new innovations; rapid application and diffusion of which is transforming how the entire world operates.
One of the most dramatically altered areas is the workplace. Just as mechanisation and computerisation did generations ago, disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, augmented analytics, and robotics are set to bring in efficiencies far beyond the scope of human capability. AI and machine learning will become part of every business, most relevant of all, to the likes of finance professionals.
As companies get acquainted with this new world, they are served up a substantial dose of challenges that manifest themselves in the need for ongoing course correction. How these professionals harness such an opportunity will make all the difference in helping them to place their organisations.
Traditionally, finance has been very conservative in its adaptation to digital disruption compared to disciplines such as marketing and sales. However, in my view, our profession has the potential to become a backbone in decision-making within organisations, thanks to this disruption.
In a digitally complex world, finance professionals need significant operational expertise to understand their organisations and the market. Finance professionals can take on a major role in the decision-making process by bringing insight and value to the table.
In the future, I see key domains of core knowledge, skills and abilities that finance and accounting professionals need to remain relevant. They will need to embrace the principles of management accounting to enhance their value-addition. Three key competencies will be required by finance professionals in their quest to operational excellence. These will help them improve their decision-making skills in a highly digitised ecosystem, put them under greater regulatory and compliance scrutiny and finally demands a high degree of operational agility. These are:
• Leadership is key to inspire cross-functional teams to achieve organisational goals
• Technology and analytics will be a fundamental skill that enables finance professionals to understand and manage new technology standards and platforms while analysing huge volumes of data
• Business acumen and operational excellence will be required to contribute as a cross-functional business partner to transform company-wide operations
These competencies will help finance professionals improve their strategic planning and navigate their organisations through a disruptive future. This will widen the pool of potential partners within an organisation as a means of seeing leaders take more holistically evaluated business decisions. Thus, bidding “adieu” to the old approach!
The author is a Senior Director at MEA and India operations.