The organizational ability to create long-term value based on reporting transparency, embracing smart technologies and innovative approaches to talent are set to take center stage in the future of corporate reporting, according to the latest findings of the EY’s annual survey, How can the digital transformation of reporting build the bridge between trust and long-term value?
The vast amount of data collected by finance teams is not being utilized to its full advantage, according to the survey. Organizations across the world have a greater amount of data than ever before due to increases in computer processing power, growing connectivity, cloud, and great storage capacity. However, the large variety and volume of data is overwhelming many reporting teams and 49% of those surveyed say they spend more time gathering and processing data than analyzing it.
The survey identifies two priorities — exploiting rapid technological advances in automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and Blockchain, and building trust into data analytics — to make the most of the smart technologies in corporate reporting. As such, AI will be the most important technology in five years’ time according to 44% of respondents, followed by robotic process automation (RPA) (32%) and tools based on blockchain (24%). However, data risk remains the number one challenge facing corporate reporting teams, with 54% citing it a top concern.
Transforming the workforce
As the corporate reporting function adopts smart technology and new ways of sharing information, it will require a different talent profile and skillsets the survey finds, with 79% of respondents saying that there is an urgent need for finance to recruit new skills. In addition, a significant majority (76%) of respondents say there is an urgent need to recruit talent with nontraditional backgrounds. And while finance teams recognize the urgency of transforming the workforce, they also note the obstacles, especially when it comes to technological innovation, nearly two-thirds (63%) of finance leaders say that resistance and cultural differences within teams are barriers to digital innovation. The survey identifies priorities for corporate reporting teams to address the workforce challenges – hire creatively and use an innovative approach to recruiting. Skills in high demand, such as experience in AI, Blockchain and machine learning, will be critical in driving innovation forward, with the 72% of respondents identifying AI skills as the most vital.
More than 1,000 CFOs or financial controllers of large organizations with revenue greater than US$500m across 25 countries participated in the annual global survey.