BlackLine Blog

December 19, 2017

Is Culture Holding Back Your Digital Transformation?

Modern Accounting
2 Minute Read

Nicole Sharon Schultz

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Is your company culture helping or hindering your digital transformation?

It can be easy to undervalue or discredit the impact of culture on a company. Perhaps that’s because culture can be hard to pinpoint.

It’s not defined by the company’s policies, though those policies make a difference. It’s the general atmosphere, the attitude, and the underlying feeling of a company, and every employee is part of shaping it.

Wikipedia defines organizational culture as “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization”.

However, culture doesn’t stop with the company. Departments have their own culture too, and that can impact everything from how excited you are about going to work in the morning to how successful departmental changes, like a digital transformation, will be.

Risk-Adverse & Anti-Transformation

It’s easy to understand how the culture of Finance Departments can hold back digital transformation. They have incredibly strong cultures and generally, they’re quite risk-adverse. This makes change a tricky thing, and digital transformations can seem like the ultimate enemy.

After all, digital transformations change the established ways of working, and Finance has thrived on building and maintaining practices that have existed for decades. Combine that with a strong fear of losing control, and it’s no surprise that the culture in Finance Departments can be a major inhibitor of digital transformation.

What is surprising, however, is that the stand against digital transformation is growing. According to Capgemini reserach, a 2011 survey revealed that 55% of respondents identified culture as the number one hurdle to digital transformation. In their recent survey, the company found that figure to have risen to 62% in the last several years.

This trend is concerning because the benefits of digital transformation for Finance Departments far outweigh the cons. A few of these benefits include:

  • Increased efficiency

  • Improved decision-making abilities

  • Greater employee satisfaction

Pew Research found that 46% of employees feel more productive because of technology, and they’re applying this freed up focus to value-add work―which is significantly more rewarding than the repetitive work of the past.

This is how accountants become exceptional and begin building a strategic partnership with the broader business.

Culture Must Support Transformation

Digital transformation is not just about new technology. It also requires the support of an organization’s culture. If your company is one of the 84% that has struggled with digital transformation, that battle will likely continue in 2018, unless your company culture changes. As the pace of change continues to increase, it’s also becoming increasingly imperative that companies move fast while also moving forward.

Deloitte’s recent article, “Finance in a Digital World”, accentuates this point. “If business leaders in the organization are going to compete in the digital world, they will need to process more information more efficiently and turn that information into deeper insights faster than ever. It will likely require new technology—and a group of people who are curious and skilled in using it.”

Competing in a digital world requires a digital transformation. In PwC’s 2017 survey of CEOs, 60 percent said that technological advancements had significantly changed or completely reshaped competition in their sector in the last five years. More than 75 percent anticipated they would do so before 2022.

Your company must transform in order to survive and thrive. Make sure your culture enables your organization to bring about a positive change in processes, people, and technology.

About the Author


Nicole Sharon Schultz