The Image Makeover Finance Needs As Cloud Computing Grows

Statistics show that, despite major gains in other functions, CFOs and their teams aren’t keeping up in migrating core functions. Two things could change that.

There’s an image on slide 24 of the recently published Future of Cloud Computing Survey that will probably make more than a few chief financial officers cringe.

While the research, which gathers insights from more than 1,300 business professionals worldwide, notes the surging growth of cloud computing in many areas of the enterprise, slide 24 is headlined, ‘Some Business Functions Lag,’ with a photograph of an aging, white-headed executive with glasses is worriedly looking at a piece of paper. You guessed it: Accounting is among those laggard functions, with less than 30% moving their processes to on-demand applications.

To be fair, other stats in the research show why those in finance may be taking their time in moving to the cloud. For example, more than 50% of those surveyed said they are looking for vendors with specific capabilities to integrate with other services. Finance is likely to be one of these, given that 58% also identified analytics as a key area of cloud-related investment.

The new year may prove to be a time when more organizations discover the potential that awaits them. An article on Information Age on the 10 Trends That Will Influence Cloud Computing In 2017 suggested that, even though it’s no longer a new concept, innovation within the cloud space is far from over:

As the cloud grows in capability and scale, we can expect to see an increasing number of new applications, whose scope is limited only by the ingenuity and vision of cloud service providers,” the article said. “While some will be targeted at niche markets, others will address common problems.”

Beyond the new services might be a new spirit of ownership among CFOs. NetworkAsia offered an inside look at the shift with “When Finance Takes The Cloud Lead,” a case study in which the CFO of Aon Hewitt discusses the value he sees in working more strategically with his IT department:

It will free up a lot of bandwidth for our finance teams, and we expect that bandwidth to be spent doing value-added activities. We expect them to spend more time doing analysis for the business, rather than spending time doing just transactions. And it will give them the opportunity to upskill themselves as well, to be more analytical in their approach, and make a real difference in the organization.

As more CFOs and their teams follow this kind of example, we might start to have a much more attractive illustration of what cloud computing and areas like accounting could look like.