Widespread adoption of cloud-based financial technology on the horizon

25 March 2014

The financial services sector has been wary of implementing cloud-based financial functions into their organisations in the past, but a new survey has revealed that this could be about to change.

The Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as Technology Evangelist report, published by Oracle, Accenture and Longitude Research, polled the opinions of 1,275 finance and line-of-business executives, discovering that attitudes towards cloud financial technology are thawing.

Just under a third (31.2 per cent) of respondents said they would not be making use of cloud technologies for financial accounting, meaning that over 68 per cent are either planning to use a cloud-based financial accounting system or are already doing so.

Over eight-in-ten respondents said they have implemented cloud-based financial consolidation and reporting software within their organisation, or will do so in the future.

The study revealed that it is those in the position of chief financial officer (CFO) that are pushing for the greater adoption of cloud-based technology within the finance sector. The report recognised that CFOs are capable of seeing the value of digital and cloud technologies for the finance function and the business as a whole.

Many CFOs are helping their companies make major strides toward the creation of a more productive and efficient technology-enabled finance function through the use of the cloud-based solutions available to them, but the report indicated that there is still a lot of work ahead for these companies and cloud providers.

For example, a large number of organisations still rely on outdated data for key decision-making, not least due to the challenges of consolidating numerous disparate systems.

Scott Brennan, managing director, Accenture Strategy in Finance & Enterprise Performance, said: "CFOs today are creating modern finance organisations that are adopting the cloud and other disruptive technologies to realise the power that digital can wield and help propel the enterprise forward.

"This study shows how modern finance leaders can help craft corporate strategies that drive profitable growth.” He went on to add that the report is encouraging when it comes to the progress and foresight financial leaders are demonstrating, as they look to break down traditional barriers to new technologies.

"These new modern finance organisations will want to train and hire professionals with robust analytical skills and business knowledge to help today’s CFO realise the full potential that finance has to offer," he stated.

Despite this positivity and praise for CFOs pushing ahead with cloud adoption, there are still some hurdles to overcome in some parts, as some risks and concerns were highlighted by the respondents.

The risk of integrating new applications and technology with legacy systems is a concern at many organisations, with 44 per cent of respondents citing this factor as something that is holding them back when it comes to adopting the cloud-based finance functions available in the market.

The second major blockage preventing the use of cloud solutions was the lack of internal skills, with 38 per cent of those questioned naming this as a barrier to adoption. Some respondents also claimed the finance function of their organisation was too focused on higher priorities. Security concerns regarding data security in the cloud tied with "uncertainty over wider benefits of new technologies" for the fifth most pressing concern, both with 29 per cent of the response.

By Tony Aynsley

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