Technology & Innovation

How cloud technology creates value for the finance function

Discover how cloud technology can help the finance function maximise the use of business data and solve challenges.

Data is the new oil. Data is currency. Data is money.

Whatever your industry, cloud technology allows you to chase accurate and up-to-the-minute data to innovate, compete and increase the profitability of your business.

By maximising your use of data, you can turn it into a valuable asset and leave your competition trailing in the dust.

To lead with data, you want to chase growth and innovation through cloud technologies that offer benefits such as predictive analytics, AI, automation and machine learning.

So, as a CFO, it’s you who may be required to steer your businesses on your data-driven journey, supporting a move to the cloud.

Here’s what we cover in this article:

Benefits of finance teams using cloud tech

Solving business challenges with cloud tech

How cloud tech can add value

How CFOs can implement cloud tech into their ways of working now

Final thoughts on cloud tech and the finance function

It’s not just about getting rid of old technology and keeping up with the Joneses.

It’s about taking advantage of the strategic value and edge in the marketplace that cloud technology can give you.

Look at automation, for instance. For many cloud-ready finance leaders, automation has already improved productivity within their finance teams.

Why is automation so crucial to a finance team?

It stops people from spending large chunks of time on repetitive and low-value tasks, which can cost businesses thousands of pounds each year.

Funds you could use for reinvestment.

In addition, the time you spend on manual processing is time your business can’t spend on more valuable tasks, such as winning new business.

Cloud finance software can automate those dull and pesky accounting tasks, crunch those numbers, produce reports, and provide valuable analytics.

Before the cloud, the most you could reasonably hope for was accurate financial statements and reports.

Now, with the cloud, you can access a treasure trove of data.

You can predict what will happen in the future, shape your strategy to fit, and improve your day-to-day decision making in real time.

Your finance team can find data patterns and trends, modelling future scenarios with machine learning and artificial intelligence. You can move quickly on projects because you have real-time data that provides evidence they will work.

Another big business challenge you can solve with cloud tech is cybersecurity.

In a 2019 Sage research report, cybersecurity concerns were cited as the number one challenge to digitalisation.

In two years, that wariness of cloud cybersecurity seems to have been replaced by positivity.

In a recent survey of 500 UK finance leaders, 49% of finance professionals who considered their organisation cloud-ready said improved cybersecurity was the leading benefit of new technology implementations.

Typically, cloud solutions configured correctly can be more secure than on-premise solutions. Cloud providers typically guarantee the safety and security of their platforms. They offer users additional safety measures, such as password protection, encryption and access limitations based on user profiles.

Cloud vendors also offer 24/7 monitoring and dedicated cybersecurity teams trained to rapidly identify and respond to potential threats, reducing the impact.

If you’re a CFO and can connect business success with improved technology, you’ll be in an excellent position to make a business case to the rest of the company that you should be putting in more tech investment.

In our research, businesses that aren’t cloud-ready say cost is why they aren’t investing in new technologies.

With the cloud, you can overcome financial arguments against digital transformation, as you can articulate the value it provides.

“Cost is always a concern, especially when you are running a small company,” says Susan Cummings, CFO of DCSL GuideSmiths, a UK-based software developer.

To counter those concerns, your finance teams must show shareholders the value of technology to the business.

“When you make that mental shift, the cost becomes less relevant.”

The more you use cloud technology, the more you’ll expand the areas where the technology can bring value. You can measure the financial impact of the decision making you’ve driven with data. You can also identify and validate your most valuable revenue streams and apply data to the processes.

The senior leadership team might ask you to steer the ship when it comes to getting value out of data, working with IT in moving your business to the cloud and implementing technologies such as automation, analytics and artificial intelligence.

As a principle, you should understand how to assign economic value to data. The cloud will allow you to set up a foundational framework to manage, measure and monetise data as an asset.

Through working with data in the cloud, one of your jobs will be to support your finance team in building insights into new revenue streams and support tech and finance to work together in improving efficiencies.

Here are a few pointers for CFOs to drive data value out of the cloud:

  • Define the accounting practices and principles to speed the adoption of cloud technology and data insight.
  • Support IT in setting up the systems to allow your business to extract value out of data. It’ll be up to you to assess commercial models, look at the risks, recognise and account for value, and apply controls and governance.
  • Plan and get strategic. Examine what your business goals are what is going to drive your use of the cloud. Examine what cloud technologies are going to work for you and create a clear roadmap for implementation.

Once you’ve put the technology in place, you’ll need to work at measuring your progress and ask a few questions of your finance team:

  • Are you using the cloud tech and are you doing it in the right way?
  • How effective are your new processes? Are they leading to the productivity and efficiency improvements you expect?
  • What outcomes do you see with the new technology? Get business metrics for your intended goals.

We started talking about the value of data, and that’s how we’ll end.

A CFO today has a central part to play in a future where businesses are becoming more dependent on extracting value from the immense amount of data that’s generated.

Starting with the finance team, you have a critical role in the digitalisation of the business.

By developing your data capabilities, you can make the right decisions about what cloud technology to invest in based on the economic value of the data you’re playing with.

Make that connection between cloud technology and business value. It will be the most effective way to advocate for digital transformation and elevate the role of your finance team.

Prove the value of the cloud. Show it can make your business more agile, forward-thinking and data-driven.

This content in its original form was paid for by Sage and produced in partnership with Longitude, a Financial Times company.

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