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How Digital Transformation Has Changed Finance Function Roles

Naomi Hamlin |

The finance function within your finance management team is critical to any business, but roles within this team have changed as organisations go through digital transformation. The planning and controlling of financial resources can be the difference between a business at the forefront of technological change and one trying to keep up with the pioneers.

But what is the future of the finance function? Digital transformation has changed the way we work for the better, whether that’s through streamlined processes, digitised expense reports or centralised spend management. For instance, finance leaders today spend 19% more time on value-added activities than the typical finance organisation did a decade ago, and the same can be seen across the finance function too.

A common misconception with automation is that it will make some roles redundant and effectively take jobs away, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s estimated that 40% of financial activities (cash payments, revenue management, general accounting and operations) can be automated, meaning employees have more time to reskill and retrain to help move the business forward. 

SAP Concur & Financial Director

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We’re going to go through how the finance function is changing and explain the new opportunities digital transformation provides for specific roles within the team.


The role and responsibilities of accountants have evolved over the past few years. Once tasked with dealing with day-to-day finance management, from budgeting and forecasting to preparing accounts and tax returns, they now also need to have experience and skills in technology and data.

While most business leaders aren’t expecting accountants to be data experts, they want someone who can create a narrative from data and use it to help reach business goals faster. They also need to be an intelligent buyer – someone who can work with technology specialists and understand enough of the technical context to be able to ask good questions and challenge assumptions.

Data Analysts

With automation providing access to an abundance of data, your finance function now needs to analyse that data and utilise all the insights it provides. While data scientists typically sit in a separate function and work with finance as needed, it’s now becoming more common for data analysts to be recruited directly into the finance team. Data analyst’s roles and responsibilities within the finance function can include utilising data provided by automation to make improvements to internal processes, spot trends and move the business forward.

Data needs to be presented in a helpful and valuable way and finance automation can help with this, whether it’s through reporting within the platform or extracting data that provides complete visibility into every corner of the business. These roles are becoming pivotal for organisations who want to embrace these new ways of working.

Learn New Skills and Re-train

Many businesses have taken the time to reskill and retrain the resources they already have in place, rather than spend the time recruiting more. The time saved by using finance technology has given many employees the space they need to realise their potential and explore new avenues within their role.

By having the time to realise their potential, employees can start to work towards the next step of their career, whether that’s moving up the ladder in their current position or perhaps starting to think about making a move to the C-Suite. One of the key skills required to become a CFO is to stay on top of emerging technologies, trends and developments so by giving the finance function time to explore these, you can be confident the next generation of leaders will already be one step ahead.

As technology evolves and more solutions are implemented in different parts of the organisation, it’s important to make sure all employees are on board with any changes so you can support them through any challenging transitions. It’s imperative to help the finance function see the opportunities in technology, rather than focusing on any responsibilities or tasks they may lose.

To understand more about the role of technology in the finance function, navigating moments of change and effectively planning for the future, listen back to our webinar, ‘How to Recover: Building a Bulletproof Business Continuity Plan’.

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