Blockchain. Robotic process automation. Artificial intelligence. Chatbots. Machine learning. Virtual reality. Analytics. Business intelligence. The barrage of fancy technology terms and concepts is continuing in 2019. No doubt new terms and products will be coined and hyped in the coming months. How is the finance function supposed to make sense of a constantly moving target?
One answer from the panel and roundtable discussions I have moderated over the years: you don’t need to. What CFOs must do is be clear in their mind what the finance organisation’s tasks are in relation to the company’s goals – and then spend only on technology that directly contributes to achieving those goals.
That said, I think every firm needs to adopt digital invoicing, which allows entry to, and more efficient participation in, local and global supply chains. This makes it easier to then proceed to blockchain ledgers, which allow authorised users to record invoices and other transactions on a blockchain. These can be entered from different devices across geographies, but the chain is designed to constantly be verified and updated in real time, so there is only one single version of the truth.
When the blockchain ledgers are integrated with ERP, performance management and other systems, the finance function and other departments will be able to slice and dice all sorts of historical and real-time data for forecasting, analytics, business insights, compliance and other value-added tasks that can confer a competitive advantage.