While some dynamic businesses are reaping the benefits from the introduction of enterprise management software applications, robotics, and advanced business intelligence tools, for others there is a significant risk of being left behind and even making costly strategic errors.
Grant Thornton's recent survey conducted amongst 10,000 senior executives in 37 economies* shows that only around half of organisations have a clear strategy and business case for enhanced digital transformation within the finance function. Is your organisation ready to make better business decisions?
Why is a clear strategy so important?
Almost a third of companies are yet to construct a strategy and business case around digital finance transformation. Grant Thornton Malta partner for Business Risk services and Outsourcing Joseph Pullicino says: "This matches our experience that many organisations don't recognise its importance. All too often we see ownership and responsibility for decisions on IT systems and technology delegated to the IT function with minimal or no business input. They are then surprised when they come to implement that technology and the affected areas of the business have no engagement and it ends up being a poorly implemented, poorly used technology."
Emerging markets keen to implement the latest technology
A regional breakdown of the figures suggests that many organisations may be sitting back, waiting to see how digital technology develops. In developed markets it is often the case that many organisations aren't making progress because they want additional assurance around certain aspects of the cloud technology model, whether that's security, integrity of data, functionality, or the overall financial situation in terms of balancing operating expenditure versus capital expenditure. There is often a nervousness about being early adopters. But while there may be hesitancy in some mature markets, emerging markets are increasingly taking a positive approach and implementing the latest technology.
Data holds the key to successful business intelligence solutions
The study conducted highlights that more than 30% of respondents have indicated that they plan to invest in business intelligence and enterprise performance management (EPM) solutions, with enterprise resource planning (ERP) also scoring highly at 28.6%. Organisations want to employ business intelligence, however challenges exist when it comes to the quality of data available and how this can be formulated into suitable information. Organisations know they want business intelligence, but don't understand what it takes to deliver it, the steps you need to take in creating integrity of data. Similarly, they often don't understand the possibilities.
What’s the ‘biggest source of inefficiency’ in finance functions?
North America is leading the charge on business intelligence, visualisation and data dashboards, while there is a solid adoption across the globe of EPM tools, such as financial planning, close and consolidation software. Grant Thornton UK partner Mark O'Sullivan says: "The EPM side is reassuring as this is basic 'housekeeping'. When I go into finance functions the failure to properly embed quality EPM is the largest single source of inefficiency in a finance function. Whether it's the amount of manual effort taken to close down the month-end or the amount of effort that goes into planning, budgeting and forecasting without really yielding any better quality in terms of the outputs.
"It's the biggest single source of waste that I see and therefore it's reassuring that those markets are seeking to address that. We can also see that the US is a bit further down the line, as shown by its lead in business intelligence and advanced analytics."
"If you think about what drives an organisation, there are three key areas: people, processes and technology," adds Grant Thornton Malta partner for Corporate and Financial services Wayne Pisani. Together they underpin your strategy, whether it's strategy for the finance function or your entire organisation. If you align the decisions that are made around technology to your strategy, you'll make better business decisions."
Why business intelligence is key
As a business manager or owner, it's vital to have a firm grip on what your organisation's data is telling you. Information does not necessarily equal intelligence, which is particularly when information is 'siloed' in disparate parts of your business.
The overriding goal of a business intelligence initiative is to convert your company's information into structured, analysable insight – in other words, real business intelligence that can inform strategic decision-making across the company. Based on our customers' own experiences, it's clear that having up-to-date, data-driven intelligence at your fingertips not only leads to better business decisions but will ultimately contribute to a superior financial performance.
Find out more
To find out more about how your company can take advantage of digital opportunities, contact us.
*The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) is the world's leading mid-market business survey. The report surveys more than 10,000 senior executives in 37 economies on an annual basis, providing insight into the economic and commercial issues affecting both listed and privately held businesses.