Five Disruptive Trends and the Implications for Finance & Accounting

Oct 17th 2013 | Posted by Bill Fowler

With the five disruptive trends announced in ReThink IT, the focus is on the implications for the CIO and IT, but IT is not the only internal group impacted by these trends. Many parts of the business, especially finance and accounting, are affected as well. The CFO and leaders of Finance & Accounting should consider each of these questions related to the five disruptive trends and leverage them as an opportunity to evolve the way finance & accounting services are delivered to the business. 

Trend 1 – Shift in Responsibility for IT to largely that of the business

  • How do we track and account for the way in which IT is procured across the enterprise? Does our internal financial reporting need to change to reflect the new reality of true IT expenditures?
  • How do we ensure that IT costs are auditable in this new environment?

Trend 2 - Convergence of ITO and BPO,

  • Does this mean contracts and fiscal reporting needs to be restructured to reflect integrated contracts?
  • What fiscal control implications, if any, does this have?
  • Who negotiates, manages, and governs these contracts; what is finance’s role in this process?

Trend 3 - Rise of social, big data, mobility and analytics,

  • How do I make sure everyone is using the same data with the same definitions (e.g., sales means the same thing to all business units and comes from the same data source)?
  • How do I ensure use by the businesses of comparable analytics?
  • How do I maintain control over fiscal reporting and compliance?

Trend 4 - Commoditization of IT

  • How does the company take advantage of lower cost of services while still driving quality service and ensuring audit controls are maintained?
  • How do I track and report IT spend?

Trend 5 - Consumerization of IT

  • How do we track IT spend?  Is it really IT spend or business unit spend?
  • How do I ensure applications, devices, etc. are used for proper and consistent analysis company-wide?
  • How do I ensure I can support customers in this new world by providing the data and services they need?

There are three important steps a company can take to address the biggest issues in finance and accounting that occur as a result of these trends.

  1. Maintain the proper controls – Rationalize the data warehousing facilities to ensure that data is used properly, consistently and accurately from “one” data source. Comparability of reports (e.g., sales must have a standard definition and sales data must come from “one” approved source) is essential, but it is often a challenge to many organizations if data governance and data management are not in place.
  2. Manage Risk – Design and implement systematic and, if possible, automated event management within the business processes. This will ensure results can be audited and risks mitigated through preventive and detective mechanisms. This is part and parcel of “Maintaining Proper Controls”.
  3. Contain/Reduce Cost - With the consumerization/commoditization of IT and the shift of IT to the business, strong governance will safeguard costs and protect the investments.

The best first step to address these issues is to evaluate the finance and accounting organization, the services provided and determine how these services compare to peer groups and best practices.

For more information read our strategy brief on the challenge of achieving customer driven shared services.

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