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EY: Is digital culture the key to unlocking finance transformation?

Finance leaders need to build a robust digital culture to realize a shift toward a more strategic finance function.

In brief

  • Finance leaders can help to elevate the finance function to a more strategic role by building a strong digital culture.
  • Strengthening the four elements of a digital culture based on an understanding of their interdependence is crucial.
  • A clear data strategy, supported by analytics, allows finance leaders to transform the finance function into one that guides the business strategy.

With access to many functions within an organization and end-to-end views of the business, the finance function has a strategic, unique role of a business partner and advisor. It needs to be agile, intelligent and future-ready. In the digital age, finance leaders often have the responsibility to foster conducive conditions that facilitate the use of technology at work.

The modern workforce has access to technological tools, but the availability of technology alone does not necessarily translate to organizational benefits. Resistance to change and other cultural barriers entrenched in the organization are major impediments to innovation.

With emerging digital technologies allowing organizations to innovate quickly and at scale, those that do not have a strong digital culture risk losing the agility to capitalize on transformative and growth opportunities. An impactful digital transformation is never simply about adopting the latest and best technologies. Other critical factors, such as people and the organization’s policies and processes, also come into play and this is where organizational culture plays a part.

To ensure that technology truly empowers people to find new and better ways of doing things to deliver greater value, every finance function needs a strong digital culture.

Digital culture has four main elements: organizational structure; people; strategy, processes and policies; and technology. When all these elements are in place and working successfully in tandem, it actuates a strong digital culture. Employees feel productive because conducive conditions exist to help them understand technologies and acquire the relevant skills to use solutions that enhance work effectiveness and efficiency. The right digital culture can also nurture employee engagement, leading to higher-quality work, more satisfied employees and generally better business outcomes.

A study, Is digital culture the key to unlocking finance transformation?, by EY and ACCA in Singapore, found that despite the importance of a digital culture in the finance function, more than half of the finance leaders surveyed recognize that there is still a considerable gap between their current digital culture state and the desired one for driving digital innovation. Finance leaders should therefore take a structured and balanced approach to bridge this gap and improve the digital culture in their finance function by driving change in the four elements that constitute culture.

The right digital culture can also nurture employee engagement, leading to higher-quality work, more satisfied employees and generally better business outcomes. 

Ronald Wong

Financial Accounting Advisory Services Leader and Partner, Ernst & Young LLP




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