This is the first in a series of three blog posts which looks at how a digital finance transformation enables a future-ready finance department – one that can use data, technology and human talent to go beyond governance to provide commercial leadership to the business. In this series we outline how a digital finance transformation enables efficient operations, smart data exploitation, strategic cloud usage, seamless user experience and an expanded role for finance.
This post focuses on the benefits of a finance transformation on the customer experience.
When you think of a digital finance transformation, changes made to the customer experience typically don’t come to mind. Unlike back-office initiatives, investments in solutions, systems and processes that impact customer experience tend to be more prioritized within an organization. These are ‘front office’ issues and must be fast-tracked.
While these front-office investments are necessary and beneficial, there tends to be a lag in applying digital transformation activities to the back office, particularly the finance department. Not thinking about digital transformation as a holistic effort that must cover the front and back offices can have three dangerous consequences.
First, it limits the benefits. A survey conducted by Publicis. Sapient scored organizations across six key areas of transformation. One of the biggest differences between mature, more successful organizations and immature companies was the extent to which they focused on transforming back office systems. As a result, only 19% of digitally immature organizations had seen significant gains in operational efficiency as compared to 49% of digitally mature organizations. The difference was even more pronounced in the quality of business decision-making with 64% of digitally mature organizations seeing significant positive gains versus 9% of digitally immature companies seeing gains.
Second, if you fail to focus on the back-end systems and experience, the value you gain from the customer-facing front-end improvements may fall short of their true potential. Back-end systems play an essential role in the successful delivery of the product or service. If these systems and processes are not as evolved as the front end, the overall customer experience will suffer. Having robust back office systems also gives you the ability to bring together the detailed data you need to truly know your customer. Having the ability to analyze trends, spot preferences, and see the impact of specific offers and marketing efforts – as well as understanding the profit per customer – can directly impact revenue.
Finally, the evolution of the back office directly impacts employee engagement. If employees are forced to make do with antiquated systems and manual workarounds, retention may be challenging. Finance team members must be empowered with systems and solutions that:
- Automate mindless accounting processes and regulatory reporting,
- Give them easy access to real-time, accurate, and granular financial data and,
- Free them up to add value to the organization
So next time your CFO goes to fight for investment in the tools and technologies required to bring your finance department into the future, try to highlight the impact of the improvements on the quality of the customer experience – and the risk of not taking action.
Interested in reading more on this topic? Visit our digital finance transformation page