Floating cars. Colonies in space. Robot servants at our beck and call.
Let’s be real: That’s not exactly the reality waiting for us in 2030. We can’t expect the world to morph into a scene from The Jetsons in just eight years.
But we can expect the world of finance to change.
It already has. Over the past few years, finance has become more agile and proactive as the market around us has presented one challenge after another. Technological advancements have made collaboration easier. Automation has become the norm. And decision making has emerged as more forward thinking, with finance taking a leadership role in helping businesses grow and thrive.
So what comes next?
At our recent Excelerate =SUM(it) event, Vena Chief Technology Officer Hugh Cumming presented The Future of Planning Technology. During the session, he gave us a sneak peek of what to expect as we go through a digital transformation in finance in the years to come.
So here are his—and Vena’s—predictions for the future of finance in 2030.
Prediction 1: Speed Will Be a Competitive Advantage
“In the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish,” Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, once said. And in the world of finance, that’s truer today than ever, Hugh told audiences at Excelerate =SUM(it).
That’s only going to continue to be more the case in the future.
So for companies of all sizes, agility is key—and the financial organizations that have that agility will thrive in 2030. It will help organizations act quickly, stay ready for market changes ahead and make real-time decisions that will continue to drive them forward.
“Speed and agility, not size, [are] the things that define an agile organization,” Hugh said. “It defines the businesses that are going to win. And at the center of this is the ability to use data to make better and faster decisions, deliver insights to the organization and be at the center of strategy.”
Which brings us to prediction two.
Prediction 2: Accessible, Real-Time Data Will Drive Business Decisions
Ideally, this isn’t something you’ll wait until 2030 to achieve. But the reality is that sourcing data from across the organization and making it accessible and operational in real time is still a challenge for many organizations. Nevertheless, data plays a key role in creating that agility we talked about in the first prediction. And as the digital transformation in finance evolves, the organizations that master their data by 2030 will be able to make faster, more meaningful decisions whenever needed.
“Bringing this data together in meaningful ways means leading the way to creating an agile business—or, quite simply, a business that can swim faster,” Hugh said.
More than that, though, in 2030, organizations will be able to use data in both retrospective and prospective ways—looking back, but more importantly looking forward. “We see that as what is the essence of this strategic transformation we see in finance,” Hugh added.
Prediction 3: End-to-End Technology Will Connect Finance with the Entire Business
When it comes to implementing new technology, it’s “the last mile” that’s often the biggest challenge for organizations. That is, introducing the connections and integrations that will let your new technology work together with the ones your business already has. It’s these connections that allow finance to integrate with the rest of the business and easily access the data you need, moving it in and out of the platform you’re using.
Solving that last-mile problem will help businesses create a more end-to-end technology infrastructure that supports your entire financial organization—and connects it to the business as a whole. And by 2030, Hugh predicts, the solutions with those integrations and connectivity options available will rise to the top and allow finance to scale quickly and easily without struggle.
That will make it easier for end users to integrate the technology they need to solve real, day-to-day business problems. Which fits into Hugh’s second prediction: Rather than seeing technology investments being driven from the top, he says, it’ll be those users who take the lead in finding functional, integratable solutions that fit their business requirements and connect the organization as a whole.
Prediction 4: Even With New Tech Investments, There Will Still Be a Place for the Tried and True
Technology and innovation will continue to play a growing role in the evolution of finance. That much is clear. But that doesn’t mean you need to replace what’s already working. Not if you want your team to stay happy and productive through those technology shifts.
And for most finance teams, that means continuing to use Microsoft Excel. It’s still the go-to solution for finance professionals. Even companies that try to replace it will often find individual team members falling back into their Excel comfort zone. As a finance organization, pushing back against that can be like fighting an uphill battle.
So why bother?
Building your technology stack around Excel will enhance acceptance and continued use, allowing you to naturally build on the technology your team feels most comfortable using. With this in mind, expect Excel to become the de facto finance desktop through 2030 and beyond—even as the technology around it continues to grow.
Prediction 5: The Workflows of Finance Will Be Reinvented
Forget about clunky spreadsheets shared over email. They certainly won’t have a place as the digital transformation in finance evolves. We can’t even wait until 2030 to say goodbye to those.
What will have a place is efficient, agile workflows that use technology to provide smooth-as-butter, real-time collaboration alternatives. That means better communication, less work for your team members and a better way of doing business.
“[It’s about] being able to collaborate on data in real time, in systems that allow multiple types of users to collaborate, to create a workflow that allows for different users to come in and join a data-centric workflow at different points on the journey,” Hugh said.
Again, that type of real-time collaboration will make your business more agile—a faster fish in a sea of slow swimmers.
Final Thoughts: When It Comes to Digital Transformation in Finance, Agility Is Key
If we know anything about the future of finance, it’s that without that kind of agility, you risk falling behind—or getting caught scrambling the next time the market experiences a new challenge or change. And the less proactive you are, the more behind you fall—and the more you risk losing out to your competition.
By 2030, then, it will be the most agile organizations that will emerge at the top. The rest will go the way of floating cars, never gaining flight.