Research from Hays suggests that adopting new technologies is the biggest business challenge facing today’s finance leaders. The survey, among 374 Australian & New Zealand finance leaders, suggests that accounts payable is most likely to be taken over by automation while risk management will remain safe.
In the Hays report – What’s Challenging Today’s Finance Leaders? – 45 per cent said the biggest business challenge facing them over the next 12 months is adopting new technologies, followed by the economic environment (40 per cent), the skills and knowledge gap of their team (39 per cent), managing risk (38 per cent), and company culture and business partnering with other functions (both 31 per cent). Cyber security is the digital technology trend they say will become most important in their role (50 per cent), followed by real-time (48 per cent), big data (46 per cent), new payment technologies (28 per cent) and artificial intelligence (24 per cent).
As for the jobs that will be partly or fully automated, 90 per cent indicated accounts payable, closely followed by payroll (78 per cent), bookkeeping (73 per cent), data analysis & modelling (64 per cent) and credit control (53 per cent). Those in least danger include risk management (17 per cent), budgeting (24 per cent), treasury (30 per cent), financial operations (33 per cent) and accountancy & audit (45 per cent).
Looking at the expertise new finance recruits will require to be successful in future, an overwhelming 54 per cent nominated strategic business partnering skills. This was followed by digital and technology (21 per cent), technical accounting (14 per cent), management and regulatory reporting (6 per cent), and risk management (5 per cent) skills.
“A sure sign of the times, what is keeping today’s finance leaders awake at night more so now than ever, are IT and digital related challenges such as cyber security, big data and automation rendering some job functions defunct,” says David Cawley, regional director of Hays Accountancy & Finance in Australia. “The fourth industrial revolution is on our doorstep, so it’s surprising that artificial intelligence is comparatively low on the list of digital technology trends that finance leaders say will become more important to their job in future. This is expected to change in the years ahead though as organisations experiment with new software.”