“You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”  Donald Rumsfeld

CFOs around the world agree digital transformation is a business imperative according to Deloitte which has annually surveyed this cohort. Yet when it comes to implementing new technologies and processes, the number one hurdle CFOs face is not technical in nature, it is humanistic. People, specifically a lack of people with the right skillsets to properly leverage digital, is the number one problem. 

What is a CFO to do? Wait until he/she can find the perfect workforce? That doesn’t sound like a feasible solution. For answers, I turned to some new research from the Harvard Business School’s Project on Managing the Future of Work and the Boston Consulting Group’s Henderson Institute. In 2019 they surveyed 11,000 workers and 6,500 business leaders across 11 countries to determine the way in which workers and business leaders approach the problem of solving talent management. 

This is what they found:

Workers seem to recognize more clearly than leaders do that their organizations are contending with multiple forces of disruption, each of which will affect how companies work differently.
Workers seem to be more adaptive and optimistic about the future than their leaders recognize.
Workers are seeking more support and guidance to prepare themselves for future employment than management is providing.

It was the third finding that interested me most. Because it shows a strong willingness on the part of workers to learn new skills and adapt to changing business processes. But they need the help of management to do it. 

While a one-size-fits-all approach to training will not work with a diverse workforce who all have different skillsets, the authors of the study exhort management to “create a learning culture” and “to look beyond the spot market for talent.” 

An important way management can achieve both these goals is by offering continuous learning opportunities and by committing to upskilling the workers they have instead of waiting for the workers they want. 

IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants), as the leading professional association for accounting and finance professionals, offers a number of resources to aid senior leaders in offering relevant training designed to teach workers what they need to know about the latest technologies including data analytics and visualization, robotic process automation, and AI. 

Recently IMA launched a new foundational certificate course, IMA Data Analytics & Visualization Fundamentals Certificate™. The four module, online course helps accounting and finance professionals learn how data can be used to influence organizational strategy and to inform strategic decisions. Up until April 30, this certificate course will be free to IMA members. 

At the conclusion of the course participants will be able to do things like:

Recognize the impact of technology and analytics on the accounting profession.
Demonstrate how data analytics can influence organizational strategy.
Identify ways data visualizations effectively enable appropriate business decisions.

This new certificate complements IMA’s other resources for technology and analytics like its online Technology & Analytics Center which provides educational resources focused on key technology and data analytics trends affecting the accounting and finance profession. IMA’s research and publications focus much of their thought leadership on technology’s impact and how management accountants can fully realize its opportunities, both in terms of advancing organizations as well as their careers. Recent IMA research in this area includes:

The Impact of Big Data on Finance
Fit for Purpose in a Digital Age
These Are The Bots You Are Looking For 

Management has the opportunity, now more than ever, of training the workforce they want, using the people they have. 


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