If you look at the last few years, you can clearly see the rapid rate of change that businesses of all sizes and industries have experienced. From pandemic-driven changes to commerce to technology-driven shifts in consumer behavior—businesses have had to adapt repeatedly.
One of the outcomes of all this change has been an increased focus on driving ROI through data and insights. As such, businesses have started to rely more on accounting, finance, and tax teams to provide insights that inform and drive the business forward. The growing pressure on these teams to provide actionable insights to the business has prompted digital transformation efforts across the three disciplines.
As digital transformation within finance grows, Deloitte predicts that by 2025, “finance will double down on business insights and service” as more automation is applied. As the roles accounting, finance, and tax play within businesses continue to expand, it’s never been clearer that they are truly the language of business and critical to the success of organizations.
The need for ROI means always-on finance functions.
Commerce is happening at all hours of the day. To keep pace, businesses are processing transactions 24/7 and in need of data to continuously refine their processes. As a result, accounting and finance must be always on and able to serve the needs of the business. During a panel on digital transformation at Avalara CRUSH Global last month, Paul Farrell, vice president of industry product management at Oracle NetSuite, said it best: “Gone are the days that [finance] can do things at the end of the month, the end of the day, or in batch. It needs to be real-time, and it needs to be always available.”
It’s not just that accounting, finance, and tax must always be on to provide data to the business. The type of data being provided has also evolved. Historically, accounting teams provided retrospective data to teams to support report development and learnings. Today, accounting and finance teams are asked to provide historical data, as well as predictive data to better inform decision-making.
But before these teams can begin providing more data to their business partners, there must be an investment in technology.
Technology adoption can’t just be for technology’s sake.
Innovation across finance technology today is astonishing. Still, despite the options and innovations that exist today, the type of technology that accounting, finance, and tax teams adopt is a critical decision that can’t be taken lightly.
Business technology has a reputation for being monolithic and slow to deliver the promised value. At the same time, society has become accustomed to the ease of use associated with consumer-oriented technologies powering our personal lives.
As accounting, finance, and tax continue through their digital transformation journeys, the technologies that provide real-time value and easy user experiences will be the solutions that take businesses to the next level.
Shifting government regulations place more emphasis on finance.
Just as businesses are trying to keep up with the rapid change surrounding them, so is government. The rise of ecommerce and cross-border commerce has prompted many tax authorities to implement new compliance requirements for businesses of all sizes.
In the US, remote sales tax laws are the norm in the majority of states. Across Europe, Latin America, and other regions of the world, e-invoicing and digital tax reporting requirements are quickly becoming the norm.
As tax laws continue to evolve and businesses move further toward an omnichannel model, finance technology is a critical success factor. Not only does this technology manage the burden created by evolving legislation, but it also creates a conduit for visibility across sales channels and systems powering the business.
Business decision-making has never been more data driven. Accounting, finance, and tax teams that hold the key to the data businesses need to not only operate in our digital economy but thrive in it. Digital transformation across these disciplines will apply technology to the discovery, management, and distribution of the data that is the lifeblood of modern business.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.
Liz Armbruester is senior vice president of global compliance operations at Avalara.
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