Digital Transformation » Technology » 2020 predictions – automation, skills gap and a digital workforce

2020 predictions - automation, skills gap and a digital workforce

Tim Leger, Senior Vice President of business process automation and transformation at digital transformation company Sutherland, looks ahead to 2020 and discusses the key trends he expects to see in the year ahead.


The future of digital finance is intelligent automation and RPA is yesterday’s news. As organisations have embraced robotic process automation (RPA), it has become a single, commodity tool in the larger automation toolbox – no longer at the centre of transformation and synonymous with process automation.

With new disruption, RPA has become table stakes in the digital ecosystem and companies are not just looking for the all-encompassing hero robot – they are now hungry for disruption 2.0 through a proven, scalable and agile intelligent automation platform that can drive better insights, innovation, and efficiency.

Whether collecting and analysing large volumes of data, turning insights into deliverables or responding to evolving financial needs, a holistic automation platform is playing a more pivotal role in producing impactful business-focused outcomes across the industry.

The next generation of digital finance will be about extracting the most value at the lowest cost through an automation-first approach, and digital natives will be exchanging RPA for a full, future-proofed wave of automated capabilities.

Skills gap

The battle to find, attract, and retain workers will intensify as the skills gap continues to increase in 2020. Not too long ago, researchers argued that technology would destroy 50% of jobs in the US; instead, there’s been an overflow of jobs in the market and a lack of modern talent to fill these positions.

According to Deloitte’s CFO Signals survey, CFOs have noted that 11.5% of their workforce lack the skills for today’s finance ecosystem, and more than two-thirds of respondents ranked analytical skills, digital technologies/automation, and core business abilities as the most important skills the financial workforce needs to develop in the next three years.

A successful warfare strategy to approach this next year is to cast a wide net, retrain, and attract the maximum number of candidates that includes those just entering the workforce, especially in the F&A sector.

In efforts to close the skills gap and attract the right talent, we’ll see recruiting platforms like LinkedIn adopt newer advancements of AI and analytics, making technology an important tactical weapon in the recruiting arsenal in the year to come.

Digital workforce

Transformational technology will create a new digital finance workforce, with an emphasis on the learning worker. Ongoing learning and flexibility are the new currency for a long-lasting career in this increasingly automated world.

In the past, the F&A staffing profile was all about finding the right mix of accountants and transactional staff – this changes in the next gen finance world. Companies will need to assess if they have the right staff with the right mix of skills, which includes financial, analytical, technical, and business acumen, along with a desire to learn and grow.

A significant amount of mental agility is now required for talent to succeed, along with an ability to adapt rather than perform a certain role. The learning worker is now agile, can think quick on their feet, quickly access information, leverage analytics to problem-solve, add value, and predict the future.

Futuristic mindset

By adopting a futuristic mindset, CFOs will become the digital officers and business leaders of tomorrow. More CFOs are directing their financial fleet away from traditional accounting duties.

Instead, they’re embarking on a journey toward becoming a new visionary to their organisations, one where they invest more time and energy into how to strategically transform their operations.

With this, a new cross-functional role is emerging where CFOs have become fearless digital transformation leaders, launching widespread automation deployments and breaking down operational silos to align more teams through digitisation.

CFOs are now not just financial machinists; they are becoming contemporary strategists, technology experts, data interpreters, and digital transformation advocates who can look ahead and plan for the future.

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