Belgian financial professionals still not fully making use of digitalisation

PwC Belgium’s 2020 Finance Executive Survey

  • 61% of Belgian finance executives admit their finance organisation took more time to achieve transformation in comparison with three years ago
  • 51% is concerned about their digital fitness adequacy and how to cope with resistance to change
  • 65% acknowledge underusing data analytics to generate insights that can steer business decisions

Wednesday 11 March 2020 - Results of the 2020 Finance Executive Survey show that while Belgian finance executives have a strong willingness to embrace technology and data analytics, over half (51%) is concerned about the digital skills of their teams and the ability to cope with change. The survey, polling 85 CFOs and financial senior executives from various sectors across Belgium, reveals a significant untapped potential for automation and data analytics, increasing their efficiency and insights.

Digital transformation is the new norm, but untapped potential remains

71% of Belgian CFOs say technological evolutions could improve the effectiveness of their finance function. Still, 61% of respondents admit their finance organisation took more time to achieve transformation in comparison with three years ago. PwC’s Finance Effectiveness Benchmark report 2019 shows that 30 to 40% of the time spent on key finance processes could be eliminated with automation. This is in sharp contrast with the 2020 Finance Executive survey results, revealing tasks are still mainly executed manually or only partially automated. In Planning, Budgeting & Reporting for example, only 4% of the process is automated while there is a potential for automation of about 27% of the time spent on these activities.

François Jaucot, Partner at PwC Belgium: “Digitalisation will not slow down any time soon. We see that turning their vision into reality remains a key challenge for many finance organisations. Instead, they are taking isolated steps driven by trends, rather than considering the whole journey and translating it into a clear and actionable roadmap. This fragmented approach impairs the speed of execution, which reinforces the feeling of being in a constant state of digital change that’s not delivering on its promises. As a result, finance executives are confronted with frustration and resistance to change within their organisations.

The first step to take in dealing with resistance to change is to understand the impact of these changes on people and, more importantly, where the resistance is rooted and take appropriate action. Finance executives are increasingly aware of this issue, and are investing in upskilling programmes to help their people become more digitally savvy and create a future-proof skillset across their finance organisation”

Becoming a data-driven business partner

65% of respondents acknowledge underusing Data Analytics to generate insights. Moreover, 51% of Belgian CFOs indicate that their main concern is the digital fitness of their people. This is also in line with PwC’s 23rd CEO Survey where 41.5% of Belgian CEOs indicated they are only starting to make progress on improving their knowledge of technology and its potential implications.

There is clear intention from finance executives to make their role evolve towards a digitally enabled business partner. The success factor is directly linked to their use of data analytics, turning financial information into valuable business insights. The survey shows that Belgian finance organisations are still in the very early stage of data analytics. Their challenges clearly have to do with the lack of the right skills across their finance team”, says François Jaucot.

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