Rounding Up the Pulse of the Panel -CFO Leadership Summit.

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The CFO plays a pivotal role in leading their organization to its long-term growth. The CFOs must now not only adapt to the rapidly changing environment, but also get ahead of it by bridging the skill gap between the Finance Function and digitization.

Addressing the question around whether the finance function would be bot-ified, Mr. Anand Agarwal, CFO V-Mart Retail, said he had no doubt in this front and the only question is “when” and by “who all”. He points out that the time taken to evolve from one form of automation to the next has reduced progressively over the years. The second and more important learning from transformations of the past is that the companies and functions that lead the adoption of change were not only able to survive but also able to outgrow their peers and competitors considerably. He says it is more a question of here and now vs tomorrow and then.

Acknowledging the role the finance leaders have in leveraging technology, Ms.Tanisha Govindarjan, Division CFO PPD L’oreal, points out one of the main reason for their integral role lies in the fact that they have end to end visibility of the entire business and understand what repercussions certain decision would cause. She believes this is what makes the top management of organizations rely on their finance teams to be on the forefront of digitization.

Talking about the approach to digitization Mr.Vijay Vaishnav says that although it is good theory, it comes with its own set of challenges. To address these challenges rightly, organizations need to find the answers to some questions like which processes to start with? Why automation? Data security concerns and the future of legacy. He advices spending time finding the automation tools that is easily integrated in the organization in order to begin building the wider business case. “Quick wins will build the base for an incremental change” he says when it comes to automating the function efficiently.
He adds that intelligent automation is paving the way to new ways of working and does not think there needs to be large scale IT investments, instead a series of investments and experiments stitching together the best of the employees, tools and technologies to offer constantly evolving services and processes that deliver more is the need of the hour.

Adding to the challenges faced while automating the finance process Mr.Ramit Gupta- Partner IBM services says, the one-piece advice he gives CFOs is to be open to automation, leverage the right talent and a partner eco-system that can drive scale. Given that automation is something that works he urges CFOs to welcome this change with an open-mind and highlights the importance of digitally enabled workforces.

The above discussion was moderated with the focus on best practices to automate the finance function by Mr.Ajay Pai Finance Director and Partner India and SSEA, sharing his views he says there is emphasis on automation but the focus needs to be on the right form of automation. He believes the onus is on the finance team to make sure they are partnering with the business for efficient integration of technology. He highlights that this would require the inclusion of data scientist and technologically well-versed finance talent as this will help CFOs have a bold technology agenda. It will make the process more agile, giving CFOs time to focus on value-add functions like being strategic partners.

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