How Technology Can Enhance Finance Stakeholders’ Experience

Nilly Essaides

There’s no longer any question that finance must digitally transform. The Hackett Group research shows that 95% of finance organizations believe digital transformation will affect the survival of their companies; 96% believe it will have a profound impact on their function’s performance. The question on finance executives’ minds is not whether to go digital, but what are the value drivers of digitalization. And how to get the most out of it.

Digital transformation makes processes more efficient by eliminating human intervention and automating system handoffs. It enhances effectiveness by shortening cycle times and reducing error rates. But the big picture of digital transformation is all about keeping up – and ideally anticipating – customers’ expectations. As the demands on the business change rapidly, the onus is on finance to keep up and stay ahead of its stakeholders’ requirements.

Is it?

Our data indicates that world-class finance organizations (by The Hackett Group’s definition) are doing 3.4 times better at meeting and anticipating their customers’ needs than typical finance functions.

How do they do it?

One of the primary reasons some finance teams deliver better customer experience is that they’ve more fully embraced technology. Our research, based on a proprietary model that uses 40 different tech-enablement metrics, found that a typical finance organization that adopts technology at a higher rate can achieve dramatically better results. Those results can affect internal and external customers’ degree of satisfaction.

For example, highly tech-enabled finance functions spend 40% more of their time analyzing the relative success of the business. That means they can support senior leadership with better insight into what’s working and what’s likely to work. Management can better understand customer segments, leverage pattern recognition to predict future trends, and tailor products and services to meet emerging expectations.

Highly tech-enabled finance organizations also have 40% fewer billing errors. That sounds tactical. But billing errors are one of those things that make people truly frustrated with finance. Errors lead to disputes. Disputes lead to time on the phone sorting out discrepancies and having potentially difficult conversations. Fewer errors make the finance process seamless and improve customers’ experience.

Customer-centricity is at the core of digital transformation. It’s how businesses are rethinking their organizational model, what products and services to offer through what channels, and what kind of shopping experience their customers want. It’s precisely why finance must remake its own service delivery model by looking at it from its customers’ perspective. The changes to service quality, to the available delivery channels, to the degree of strategic decision support … all these changes are not possible without fuller engagement of enabling technologies. These technologies make some processes appear completely seamless while bringing high-value activities like business partnering to the forefront.

For more on optimizing your finance function, see Six Best Practices For A Future-Ready Finance Talent Strategy.

Nilly Essaides

About Nilly Essaides

Nilly Essaides is senior research director, Finance & EPM Advisory Practice at The Hackett Group. Nilly is a thought leader and frequent speaker and meeting facilitator at industry events, the author of multiple in-depth guides on financial planning & analysis topics, as well as monthly articles and numerous blogs. She was formerly director and practice lead of Financial Planning & Analysis at the Association for Financial Professionals, and managing director at the NeuGroup, where she co-led the company’s successful peer group business. Nilly also co-authored a book about knowledge management and how to transfer best practices with the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC).