Automation » The winds of change are blowing through finance teams, again

The winds of change are blowing through finance teams, again

The finance industry is set to prioritize Generative AI skills, advanced analytics, and remote working proficiency. Despite the potential of GenAI, training in this area remains low, indicating a significant skills gap.

Finance team members must be adept in AI. But they must also still be able to put together a P&L statement. But they also need to be able to collaborate with the sales and marketing teams. And do not forget cyber security.

2023 was a big year for finance teams – change was forced upon them yet again as new skill sets became more desirable for the once back office function. But as accelerating technology and market turbulence continue to buffet organizations, the job of upskilling finance teams is far from over.

If 2023 represented a period of disruptive but opportunistic breakthrough for many CFOs, 2024 promises even faster-paced change as roles expand through elevated expectations from data fluency to technical leadership.

The dimensions of finance work radically shifting fall into five key areas: data analytics, technology implementation, advisory services, automation management and risk oversight.

Let’s examine how skill demands within each dimension progressed during 2023 and what the horizon likely holds for 2024 as CFOs shepherd their function to the next level.

New skills on the block

1. Data Analytics – From Reporting to Predictions

Having upskilled in data visualisation and business intelligence tools this year, next-generation finance teams will double down on statistical analysis and modelling techniques in 2024. The goal is unlocking more prescriptive planning rather than just faster reporting. Machine learning promises more probabilistic forecasting so business leaders get strategic recommendations, not just historical descriptions.

2. Technology Implementation – From Cloud Migration to Solution Design

With many organizations finishing their cloud finance system transitions, new complexities arise integrating expanded solution capabilities and weaving systems into business processes. The tech oversight baton for finance systems increasingly passes from IT to finance. Technical project management, change communications and user engagement move front and center.

3. Advisory Mandate – From Bean Counters to Strategic Stewards

Already the de facto keepers of enterprise performance data, progressive CFOs will nurture softer skills like leadership storytelling, change advocacy and strategic sparring as the function becomes the CEO’s lead consultative partner on growth opportunities. Finance provides guardrails aligning planning to financial realities so business leaders can swing for fences.

4. Automation Management – From Piecemeal Tactics to Workflow Transformation

Few functions are untouched by robotic process automation (RPA) but disparate bot deployments cause enterprise chaos. Finance teams will develop organization-wide programs governing what automation opportunities get approved, how they are implemented at scale, what bot training requirements exist and how workforce impacts get addressed responsibly during automation driven transformations.

5. Risk Management – From Back-Office function to Strategic Priority

Heightened uncertainty means risk modelling, quantification and mitigation elevated firmly into the CFO’s suite. Leading risk indicators get systematically integrated into planning. Stress testing and contingency preparation become standard. Cyber defense and data integrity join financial controls at the heart of internal audit priorities to provide assurance to CEOs and boards alike.

The list goes on but the key takeaway remains – with technology and market turmoil accelerating, the skillsets necessary to remain integral strategic partners in the C-suite for finance leaders will only grow more expansive, cross-functional and fast-changing through 2024. But by leaning into this period of exponential learning, CFOs can set their teams and enterprises squarely on the path for success. The handwriting is clearly on the wall and the winds of change continue to whip through the office of the CFO.

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