How to Make Digital Transformation a Reality

This is Part 2 of an article that originally appeared in Frontier Enterprise, and features insights from Deloitte and SAP’s presentations at InTheBlack Singapore. Read Part 1 here.

Tackling digital transformation’s broad scope is never easy. At InTheBlack Singapore this year, Tammy Coley, Chief Transformation Officer at BlackLine, shared her experiences of assisting client corporations to navigate DX without veering off-track.

Back in 2005, standardizing everyone’s Excel spreadsheets and filing physical documents were the de facto rigors of Accounting, but this was not working out for Tammy’s team. Whenever they had problematic reconciliations, they were expected to do WITTB (What It Takes To Balance) at all costs.

Instead of managing the month-end close, the latter was managing her. Something had to be done, and by 2016, Tammy had launched a pilot for a BlackLine implementation to improve things.

Much retraining was needed to get teams used to the new and seamless way of leveraging automation, but the results shone through.

Soon, reconciliations were 80% automated, journal entries were enjoying new visibility, and the month-end close went down from ten to only three days.

Variance analyses were now more efficient and giving management new insights into the business processes.

With additional BlackLine tweaks, over 90% of journal entries within their ERP system and within BlackLine had been automated. Ownership of internal controls was also streamlined and monitored automatically to ensure continuity even with staff turnover, thus making preparations for year-end audits a smooth and painless process.

By 2016, digital transformation in Tammy’s finance department had melded with the rest of the company’s operations to facilitate agile, insightful business decisions and strategy to keep pace with disruption trends.

Digital Controllership: Explore Your Digital Potential

Controllership—the art and science of supervising a corporation’s financial, accounting and business interests—has gone digital. With a business securely ensconced in a cloud environment, digital controllership offers unprecedented oversight and analytics to improve governance and efficiency.

Deloitte’s Giam Ei Leen, Partner, Audit & Assurance, was on hand to share many case studies on the “art of the possible”—where organizations exploited DX to maximize business potential.

It was noted that the Close-to-Report cycle has been deemed to be a linear process, but it is usually adjusted by process failures (such as breaching of budgets) and last-minute reconciliations and findings.

Now, with the proliferation of cloud-based centralization of workflows, controllership is moving away from the linear, analog process toward one that is a real-time practice.

More than 75% of CFOs, according to a survey quoted by Ei Leen, believe that DX can lower the cost of achieving accurate financial reporting. Deloitte has looked at how its clients can benefit from DX to streamline controllership in the digital realm.

From advances in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to in-memory processing of big data for analytics and business intelligence, the Cloud is propelling controllership flexibility to new heights. Myths about cloud migration costs and teething pains that are keeping business on legacy systems were addressed and dispelled.

Data analytics add a powerful lens in digital controllership, and Ei Leen touched on the various types of analytics and visualization tools that enhance decision making.

The Pathway to Intelligent Finance

The first post-lunch presentation was conducted by SAP’s Regional CFO (Asia Pacific and Japan), Richard McLean. In this presentation, Richard discussed emerging trends and how evolving key technologies, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and predictive analytics are revolutionizing the way Finance is improving change management.

SAP’s role in empowering the intelligent enterprise is to help it make use of data efficiently to offer excellent customer-centricity, and to remain agile and responsive to market opportunities and threats.

In the finance and accounting space, the intelligent enterprise benefits from accurate reports and analytics that enhance business intelligence and operations while reducing its risk profile. At the human level, a digitalized finance function empowers all other business functions and enhances change management.

Richard predicted that, in the next three to five years, budgeting periods will become shorter and more dynamic, while analytics will become a core function of finance.

In response, SAP is already priming itself to help its customers tap into the right machine-learning/artificial intelligence technologies while nurturing something that is vital to digital transformation—a learning culture.

Attend InTheBlack 2019 in Los Angeles to gain even more insights like these, through inspiring keynotes, education, networking, and professional development.