Finance of the Future: From Cost To Revenue

Finance has traditionally been relegated to the back-office. It’s the number-crunching, column-toting department working with manual spreadsheets and processes. The team that thinks in maths and digits and is there to simply provide the oil that keeps the cogs of business moving ever forward.

Not anymore.

As Deloitte deftly describes it, the finance function has shed the ‘traditional back-office role to become a forward-thinking strategic partner’. It is a view shared by Ernst & Young, who believe that it has long past become time to look at finance differently, especially now in the post-pandemic era where old models are falling away, and finance functions need to evolve considerably to drive success. The research firm believes that the role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is more that of the Chief Value Officer (CVO), which focuses on providing strategic support to the business that drives growth, improves decision-making, and leverages next-generation technologies.

Why? Because companies need a richer hold on their numbers and reporting than ever before. Markets are intensely competitive, the geo-political landscape is volatile, and economies are still flailing post-pandemic complexity. Companies need a finance team to help them prioritise their investments, improve their revenue streams, engage with fresh revenue-making opportunities effectively, and gain more value from their data.

This shift is reflected in the statistics.

  • 85% of companies are changing their finance operating models[1]
  • 62% of CFOs plan to increase co-sourcing select finance activities[2]
  • 82% of CFOs are planning to increase investments in digital capabilities[3]
  • 74% of executives believe they have a culture ripe for reinvention[4]
  • 92% of CFOs plan to increase investment in finance technology[5]

The Value of Technology in the Finance Future

Technology has played no small role in pulling finance out of the back office and into the boardroom. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, business intelligence, and big data - these are all powerful tools that have supplemented the CFO’s role, providing them with the opportunity to deliver value to the business.

Some of the most significant technologies changing the shape and future of finance include:

Hyperautomation - Gartner believes that this orchestration of ‘multiple technologies, tools or platforms’ that include AI, machine learning (ML), robot process automation (RPA), and low-code capabilities will help companies significantly reduce their operational costs by removing the majority of manual processes.

Data analytics and insights - the ability to take data from multiple sources and silos and then create insights that offer holistic views of the business has completely redefined the role of finance. Teams that can access, analyse and leverage the data to deliver real-time decision-making are already ahead of the competition.

Embedded finance - part of the fintech revolution shaping the future of finance, embedded finance is described by McKinsey as the next payments revolution and by Ernst & Young as the route to creating end-to-end customer journeys for organisations. Platforms, software companies, retailers and online marketplaces now have access to technology that can transform how they engage with customers and build long-term relationships that bypass the limitations traditionally felt within the payments space.

How Finance Can Innovate

In perhaps one of the greatest ironies of all business time, finance teams have traditionally been a cost centre for the business. A grudging necessity required by the organisation to ensure the smooth management of invoicing, payments, cash flow and costs. This is changing alongside the role of the finance team and CFO.

With the right technologies, finance teams can move away from the idea that they are simply there to crunch the numbers and toward the value they can add across the business, particularly when driving revenue. Leveraging tools such as embedded payments, finance teams can source fresh revenue opportunities for the business, opening new doors that translate into new markets and customers.

Embedded payments allow customers to create new revenue streams and explore new business opportunities at the same time as providing customers with fresh and engaging experiences within relevant and agile digital ecosystems. Companies that focus on implementing embedded payment solutions also create the space to innovate, setting themselves up as leaders within very competitive markets.

Using automation and data, teams can refine their workflows and reduce their reliance on manual processes, decreasing the time spent on tasks and increasing the time they have available to focus on more relevant and strategic advisory. McKinsey captures this perfectly in its research, finding that simply undertaking annual reports can take up 2,300 hours. Technology has the potential to streamline many of the complex processes that surround finance operations and the reduced hours spent on simple tasks are now targeted towards more complex ones, such as becoming the ‘CEO’s confidante and sounding partner’.

Can Finance be the Ultimate ROI?

Embedded finance has the potential to reshape the role of finance in three key ways:

1. Instead of finance remaining in the back office, this technology allows finance to move smoothly and entirely into the boardroom, providing a strategic value-add through its revenue-driving, cost-optimisation and innovative capabilities. Finance can leverage their expertise to fully use the technology’s potential within the context of their roles and the business.

2. Most executives perceive embedded finance as a growth opportunity. In a recent article in CFO Magazine, the trend is towards CFOs leveraging this technology to create financing solutions for customers that can then be white-labelled and branded to form part of an organisation’s existing ecosystem. White-labelled embedded finance at its best.

3. The technology allows the business to meet the customer at the edge. Customers want agile and immediate financial solutions that make their lives easier, better, faster. Embedded payments allow companies to create these solutions within their own walls, and finance teams can ensure that these solutions meet the strategic and financial expectations of the business.

The UNIPaaS Solution: Shaping the Future of Finance

UNIPaaS provides organisations with an embedded payment solution that understands exactly how to make your business thrive and your finance teams evolve into more strategic and relevant spaces within the organisation. Our solution is designed to help CFOs create frictionless experiences that transform growth, ignite innovation and support their increasingly demanding roles.

Our agile embedded payment solution provides you with comprehensive visibility into your ecosystem, can be completely white-labelled to fit within your brand and comes with our assurance that your payment processing is in line with regulatory standards. Welcome to the finance revolution - UNIPaaS is here to guide you every step of the way. Schedule a demo to find out how.