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REVx 2021: Finance Departments Crave More Tech Talent

If you’re a finance pro and want to accelerate your career, you’ll help yourself by becoming adept and comfortable using various types of financial technology.

You’ll also advance faster by becoming highly skilled at interpreting financial data to generate smarter insights that lead to better business decisions.

A panel of finance executives converged on these themes Aug. 5 during the REVx on the Road panel discussion titled “The Future of the Finance Department: Show Automation is Catalyzing Growth.”

“Demand is rising for skilled technology people in the finance industry,” said Mike Burns, a former CFO of several high-tech businesses. “Finance pros should spend more time connecting via technology and collaborating in person with their finance teams and other departments within their companies.”

The most sought-after finance pros will be those who can also use technology to organize data, figure out what it means and communicate a simple and compelling story to corporate leaders.

Finance industry ‘drowning in data’

“The finance industry is drowning in data,” Burns added.

Instead of presenting a “bunch of numbers,” finance pros should offer insights and key takeaways about what the numbers reveal and what should be done.

Dan Drees, AvidXchange’s chief growth officer, built on this idea.

“Interpreting data means adding more value to the business, connecting the dots and then explaining what the numbers mean and how the company can improve,” Drees said.

Rapid growth in AI use

To stay ahead of this growing technology and data interpretation wave, companies are rapidly using more artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, a type of AI.

“These predictive technologies, in which machines perform routine and repetitive tasks previously done by people, will be especially impactful on the finance industry over the next 12 to 18 months,” Drees said. “AI is not a white paper anymore. … AI is a classic example of a transformational shift in the way existing finance teams operate. You allow software to do the work so you can spend more time adding more value to your company.”

Looking five years ahead, he identified digital resiliency as another technology trend to watch. This trend encompasses the following elements:

  • carefully curated technology stacks
  • maximizing efficiency levels
  • a team that feels prepared and supported and
  • a heavy focus on the bottom-line financial performance.

“Wholesale end-to-end digital transformation is becoming obsolete,” Drees said. “Digital resiliency will be much more about using technologies in more targeted, smaller and better ways.”

Technology needed to prepare for next crisis

Technology will also be crucial to prepare for the next global crisis that may occur, said Claudia Good, CFO of Borger Management Inc., a property management company in Washington, D.C. Essentially, the pandemic was a wake-up call for the finance industry to think more carefully about the importance of digital connectivity and communications.

She stressed the importance of creating, in advance, a disaster recovery plan for whatever new crisis may come along.

“Technology is the rope that ties everything together,” she said. “If you don’t have access to technology, you won’t be prepared for the future.”

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