Chief Financial Officer

Finance Leaders Discuss Human Capital in a Digital Paradigm

Domitille Adrien, Alam Operations and Investments Controller at Air Liquide, Traci Spero, Senior Director of Human Resources at Canon, and Workday’s Steve Hirsch shared their thoughts on the use of digital technologies in the finance space during a panel discussion at the 2018 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in New York on November 28. During the panel discussion, “Why Human Capital Matters in a Digital Paradigm,” Adrien, Spero and Hirsch examined a variety of finance topics, including:

  1. Communication and Collaboration in a Digital Era

 

Digital technologies have transformed the way that finance teams connect with business leaders across an organization. Today, finance team members are expected to connect with one another and business leaders via a broad array of platforms. Yet using these platforms to drive connectivity and collaboration sometimes is difficult, particularly for finance teams with limited time and resources at their disposal.

For today’s finance teams, it is important to determine which digital technologies can be seamlessly integrated into their respective organizations’ day-to-day operations. Next, finance teams can use these technologies to engage with one another and business leaders from any location, at any time and on any device. And as a result, finance teams can leverage assorted digital technologies to communicate and collaborate with different departments and become key contributors within their respective organizations.

 

“Digital is completely changing how the [finance] department works,” Adrien stated. “The finance team used to be in the corner of an office crunching data. Now, the finance team is able to communicate much more effectively and work with sales, marketing and [other business] teams.”

 

  1. The Use of Data to Drive Informed Decision-Making

 

Data is available to finance teams globally. However, determining which data is relevant to an organization and how to optimize the value of data is rarely simple.

Finance teams must understand data, as well as the flow of information across an organization. If finance teams collect and analyze data, they can gain meaningful insights. Best of all, finance teams can use pertinent data to make faster and more informed decisions than ever before.

 

“How data flows across from one part of an organization to another … we need to understand where the data is coming from, where it is going and what is being done with it,” Hirsch indicated. “Data is no longer in silos, and you need to understand it.”

 

  1. Skills and Traits of Finance Leaders

 

The definition of a successful finance leader continues to evolve. Now, finance leaders are expected to update their skills accordingly, and failure to do so may cause an organization to fall behind its rivals.

Furthermore, finance teams need to discuss the skills and traits of new hires with business leaders and partners. If finance teams work with business leaders and partners, these groups together can hire employees who can deliver meaningful contributions across different departments.

 

“You need to sit with your business leaders and partners and understand their perspective of how the business continues to change,” Spero said. “What we’re seeing is that there’s a greater call for adaptability.”

  1. Talent Engagement and Retention Challenges

 

Finding, engaging and retaining talent is difficult, especially in the finance space. As finance teams search for top talent, they often face steep competition for highly skilled individuals.

A data-driven approach to talent engagement and retention may prove to be valuable. If a finance team understands what to look for in its search for top talent, it can hone its talent search based on its organization’s needs. Also, this team can use technology to retrieve data and eliminate organizational silos and explore ways to give top talent a career growth path within an organization.

 

“Everyday [talent] engagement tools are really important,” Spero noted. “You need to break down silos, get exposure and get into different groups, and technology is helping with that.”

  1. How a Finance Team Executes a Business Strategy

 

Resistance to change is one of the primary hurdles that finance teams face as they try to execute business strategies. To overcome this challenge, finance teams must engage with all departments across an organization and respond to any concerns or questions. That way, finance teams can minimize potential roadblocks that otherwise prevent the successful execution of a business strategy.

Finance teams also should highlight the big picture relative to a business strategy. If finance teams employ professionals that understands how to contribute to the execution of a business strategy, these professionals may be more likely than ever before to deliver meaningful results.

 

“It’s a challenge to get people to see the bigger picture,” Spero indicated. “We try to get people to understand [the bigger picture] … and it leads people to be more open because they are more invested in their work.”

 

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