Finance leaders fear tech is holding them back

The majority of finance leaders believe their department’s development of digital transformation projects is lagging behind the competition, according to a survey by Financial Director.

The survey, conducted between September and October 2020 in association with Chrome River, found that 54 percent of respondents were either a little behind or not at all up to date in their digital transformation projects. A further 18 percent didn’t know how they fared against the competition, and only seven percent felt they were totally up to date.

Nick Ludlow, regional vice president at Chrome River says the results may indicate a worrying trend.

“I think the disconcerting question is whether these finance leaders are complacent. Are they disregarding the critical importance of digital transformation?”

With coronavirus cases rising rapidly across the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday, January 4 that another nationwide lockdown will be needed to suppress the virus. Ludlow is worried that too many finance departments didn’t get their digital tools ready for remote working. He urges finance teams to take action and not let tech hold them back.

“Some businesses have employees who , albeit in a very limited way, are returning to the office and are able to pick up where they left off. But many don’t. It worries me that it could take yet more rounds of full lockdown before all companies recognise the importance and the positive impact of digitalisation. At that point they will face an even steeper path to business recovery. .”

The concerning figures reflect responses to other questions in the survey where 53 percent of finance leaders said they were either in the early stages of digital transformation projects or had yet to start them. Ludlow believes the similar statistics are closely related.

“I do believe that there is a correlation between the number of finance leaders who have only just started their digitisation projects, and those who feel that they are behind the curve compared to their peers. Likewise, the number of companies who have almost completed their digital transformation is similar to those that think they are ahead of the competition,” he says.

Ludlow says that underdeveloped technology stacks mean more sophisticated competitors are getting ahead. Firms who have digitised their finance processes should have a marked advantage over their competition as life in the pandemic shows no signs of easing in the near future, despite the optimism provided by a vaccine rollout.

“Accessibility is the key advantage. Firms that have all their processes online will be saving time, which has a knock-on effect of ROI.

“Ultimately, digitised companies are going to save time and money. Whether it’s on invoicing, on accounts payable, expenses, fraud or just saving the time it takes to process something that was previously manual. There are so many different reasons, but they’re certainly basking in the ROI,” Ludlow adds.