A new report, published by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) with Deloitte’s Center for Controllership, details how advanced technologies contribute to the constantly evolving finance function and what new skills finance professionals must gain to remain relevant and resilient.

The 20-page report, “From Mirage to Reality: Bringing Finance into Focus in a Digital World,” provides insights on how technologies, such as automation, analytics, and visualizations, serve as enablers in how work is performed and how finance teams can develop their skills and competencies, build cultures of continuous learning and education, and utilize technologies to enhance and optimize their work. The report is based on a global survey conducted between November 6, 2019, and January 6, 2020, of nearly 800 finance and accounting managers, directors, controllers, and CFOs.

The report further found that more than 85% of respondents believe automation will significantly impact the way their companies perform their work within the next three to five years, likely manifesting in changes to financial reporting, general ledger and close accounting, operational accounting, financial planning and analysis, and controls and compliance processes. 

“Technology will continue to occupy a greater role within the finance function, and recent events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have only accelerated this trend,” said Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE, IMA president and CEO. “As the urgency for digital finance transformation grows, it is imperative that finance professionals upskill and encourage their employees to develop future-ready competencies.”

To adapt to these changes and develop these needed skills, respondents especially recommend finance teams invest in training in:

  • Budgeting, Forecasting, and Reporting Tools 
  • Cloud-Based Accounting Solutions
  • Data Analytics and Visualizations

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated technological advancements for many organizations and their accounting and finance functions, it’s also accelerating the future of work, workforce, and workplace,” said Beth Kaplan, managing director for the Center for Controllership, Deloitte & Touche LLP. “As organizations discern what their ‘next normal’ looks like, now is the time to lean into areas that will offer operational efficiencies and enhancements for finance and accounting teams, just as with broader organizational groups.”

To read the full report, visit the IMA website.