“I think the enterprise landscape will witness more functionality that allows business leaders to interactively collaborate and explore live financial data through visualizations,” says Dan Miller, EVP of Medium Segment & SVP of Product, Sage Intacct in an exclusive interview with EnterpriseTalk.
ET Bureau: Do you think the vaccination drive across the globe will help enterprises to improve and enhance their business conditions in 2021?
Dan Miller: As more people around the world begin to receive their COVID vaccinations, we expect to see an easing of restrictions – both from how businesses can interact with the public and how companies can operate with staff in offices or other work settings.
This is bound to have a positive effect on businesses and their ability to grow. The question is really when we’ll see that impact. In the recent Return to Growth Outlook report, Sage Intacct’s survey of more than 1,000 finance executives found that more than half (56%) expect to see the vaccination have a positive impact on their business by the end of September.
This is also likely reflected in their overall positive outlook on growth, with three-quarters (73%) of U.S. small and midsize businesses expecting to match or exceed pre-pandemic revenue levels by the end of 2021.
ET Bureau: How can CFOs help their counterparts for increasing the growth and revenue of the business?
Dan Miller: CFOs are uniquely positioned to see across all areas of the business. Over the past few years, there has been a significant shift in the strategic nature of their role – moving from being the go-to person for financial history to a strategic advisor for the future of the business. That change continues as we emerge from the pandemic, as nearly eight in ten respondents to our recent survey expect the CFO to have somewhat more or much more influence on the direction and success of their business in 2021.
Digital transformation is powering some of this change. Finance leaders have traditionally relied on manual processes, the close, and some good intuition to guide their business decisions due to a lack of real-time data.
They were so focused on day-to-day tasks and running backward-looking reports that they hardly had the time to look at the bigger picture and make logical decisions on the company’s future.
Today’s modern, cloud-based financial systems provide CFOs with the real-time data and sophisticated analytics they need at their fingertips to make instant decisions about the company. They have become true strategists, who base their outcomes on empirical data and can share that knowledge across business functions.
ET Bureau: How can today’s enterprise leaders make use of the advanced technologies to identify gaps in their business operations and make informed decisions?
Dan Miller: One of the impacts of the pandemic on businesses is a prioritization on digital transformation efforts.
Sage Intacct’s recent survey found that more than half of respondents (52%) accelerated their digital transformation by three or more years. Not surprisingly, 77% plan to increase their budget for technology over the coming year, with 38% expecting technology to have the largest positive impact on their company’s growth in 2021.
Emerging technology, including AI and machine learning, will have a huge impact on businesses — especially in the finance organization.
What today may still be largely slow, manual, and error-prone financial processes will be automated by computers. This will redefine the role that humans play in the world of finance and business at large. Instead of focusing on manual tasks, these employees can play a greater role in analyzing business information and improving processes.
This is, in part, made possible due to an ever-growing amount of financial data that lives in the cloud and is now accessible in ways it has never been before. It’s also enabling accounting and finance to move away from processes that traditionally rely on monthly or yearly close cycles – and toward continuous, real-time practices that are ongoing. This all leads to faster, more data-driven decisions.
ET Bureau: What do you think about the current financial cloud-based technologies? What trends do you see that will transform them in 2021 and beyond?
Dan Miller: In addition to the impacts of AI and machine learning mentioned previously, another area of change within cloud financial solutions is advances in reporting and analytics.
As advanced technology helps to free up time for finance leaders to spend on analytics, it is equally important to provide them with the tools necessary to manage that process. I think the enterprise landscape will witness more functionality that allows business leaders to interactively collaborate and explore live financial data through visualizations.
While the CFO takes the lead in understanding the impact of the financial and operational numbers, it is important to make this data accessible across the organization, so that everyone is working from the same data.
Enterprise leaders can also expect to see additional predictive capabilities added to solutions that allow users to project trends into the future for better scenario planning. If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught CFOs is the importance of expecting the unexpected for their business.
Now is a great time to reflect on how they can plan for the next “unforeseeable disruption” – this will likely be done using modern financial tools that allow them to frequently and easily replan throughout the year as business conditions change.
Dan Miller is a proven leader in the cloud financial management industry. For more than 25 years, Dan has led successful product organizations with his expertise in product strategy, product management, experience design, engineering, and customer education. He currently leads the overall Medium Segment organization for Sage, which focuses on meeting the needs of midsize businesses, while also serving as SVP of Product focused on Sage Intacct.