5 Trends Redefining CFO's Role in 2018

Welcoming 2018, several trends will set the stage for a successful service-economy shift, and put CFOs in the driving seat.

1. Blockchain and self-driving finance

As a technology that optimises efficiency and accuracy of any transaction, blockchain applications are underpinning the growth of self-driving finance if they could be connected to the organisation’s internal ledger. For auditors, blockchain ledgers have the potential to solve the problems associated with standardisation, reliability and compliance all at once.

2. Unified ledger integration

By replacing fragmented financial databases based on transaction processing with a new unified ledger system, companies could unlock 50 percent of costs in business operational compliance and drop costs up to 70 percent for financial reporting. It will allow CFOs to access both period reporting data and real-time reporting with no need to close. That also means that CFOs can perform better data analysis and calculate more complex KPIs than the competition, directly from the finance dashboard.

3. AI in expense management

AI programs instantly handle the company’s accounting consolidation, arbitrage and legal compliance needs. Enterprise chatbots and digital assistants will integrate seamlessly with services like Office365, and Microsoft Azure’s LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligent Service) to support natural language queries and cognitive services—even capturing data like travel expenses and billable time as they occur.

4. Digital invoicing (UBL)

One of the biggest benefits of adopting UBL is that invoices instantly become booking proposals that clients can then process in their financial or ERP systems. Finance professionals in both companies will save a great deal of time and effort by not having to recreate invoice data. Like blockchain, UBL removes one layer of potential for human error in copying data from one form to another.

5. Integrated business planning

These four technologies – blockchain, unified ledger integration, AI and digital invoicing – indicate a dramatic restructuring of the financial landscape in the year ahead. In the very near future, all finance teams are bound to let go of backward looking disclosure operations and concentrate their efforts on future focused opportunities for the business.