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Planning Your Digital Transformation Strategy for 2021

February 2, 2021

Did you know that 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to achieve their desired results?

Going through a global pandemic made it abundantly clear to businesses how critical it is to be agile, adaptable and resilient to change. The new challenges catapulted technology right up to the top of many companies’ agendas. 

Technology will only play a bigger role in our lives going forward, and traditional financial institutions must plan for digital transformation, or risk losing their customers to digitalised competitors. 

We’ve listed everything you need to know to help you build a solid digital transformation strategy in 2021.

How is Digital Transformation Affecting the Finance Sector?

As the virus propelled us into a world of remote working, technology became essential to keep businesses going. Digital transformation offers financial institutions opportunities to operate faster and cost-effectively while still meeting regulatory deadlines and improving customer experience to stay competitive. 

As new technologies and financial trends emerge, companies now need team members that can master digital procedures. These institutions need to fill the ‘digital knowledge gap’ to create a workforce that can adapt quickly to the fast-changing digital environment. Read our recent guide on how to manage an audit team remotely to find out more.

What Are the Digital Transformation Trends in Finance?

Technology changed the finance world as we know it. Customer service chatbots, cloud data storage and digital banking, are natural parts of our lives. Below are a few digital transformation trends that finance professionals can expect in the near future:

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

RPA is a powerful tool that increases a business process’s efficiency by taking care of the repetitive, time-consuming, error-prone and ‘boring’ tasks like loan processing or invoice filing. RPA can perform tasks in a fraction of the time it takes a human and with no errors, freeing employees up to focus on higher-value tasks.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm, and the finance sector is no different. One of the most popular AI solutions in the accounting space is using Chatbots to communicate with site visitors. Chatbots allow customers to ask relative questions about vendors, budgets and forecasts, and any other relevant topics, which is easier than going over statements to answer these questions manually.

AI can also build custom reports tailored to each client’s needs, which also frees up time for employees. Instead, employees can focus on client relations to nurture existing relationships and onboard new clients. 

Machine Learning

Machine Learning (ML) has many roots in the accounting sector and is likely to expand its foothold and capabilities. 

Accountants can use ML to audit expense submissions, removing the need for constant and manual documentation, and perform risk assessments and data analytics. Employees no longer need to perform menial tasks like categorising invoices or clearing invoice payments, giving them more time to focus on their clients. 

Cloud Computing

As cloud technologies continue to develop, financial institutions are more comfortable using public cloud services and build hybrid cloud models to store their data. 

Using the cloud to deploy AI and RPA solutions will help these companies crease laser-focused marketing and intelligent risk control faster and cheaper. As technologies develop, financial institutions can achieve financial inclusion by gradually building unbounded networks focused around their products and services.

How to Build a Solid Digital Transformation Strategy

Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all solution and involves more than the mere implementation of digital tools. Follow these simple steps to create a digital transformation strategy for your organisation:

Assess Your Needs & Requirements

Understanding your firm’s specific needs and how you want your digital transformation to look are key factors to transitioning into the digital world. Companies that fail to understand where they need digital transformation often don’t achieve their desired outcomes.

While COVID and the constant stream of financial institutions transitioning to digital presents a sense of urgency, it’s wise to take the time to conduct an air-tight audit of your digital transformation needs. It’s better to wait than to pull the trigger too soon and create a strategy around the wrong changes.

Streamline Communication

When building your digital transformation strategy, you should also focus on improving your firm’s internal productivity and communications speed.

Analyse the firm’s existing digital communication methods to determine where staff consistently spend more time. If employees spend a lot of time communicating via paper printouts or email, you lose time and money in the long run. Think about how a digital solution such as Slack or Microsoft Teams could improve communication between employees to save time, money and boost productivity.

Create a Plan for Handling Data

Developing a more extensive digital infrastructure equals new ways of acquiring and handling data within your company. A solid digital transformation strategy needs a plan for managing current and expected data that will arise as the company increases its online presence and digital footprint.

The more you digitise your processes, the more data you must deal with, and the more you need a robust digital solution to process that data. It’s also wise to check your industry for data compliance regulations, as you may be required to use specific software or storage methods.

Build a Culture That Supports Technology

Digital transformation promotes new ways of thinking about traditional problems, encouraging companies to embrace change. 

Building a digital transformation strategy involves creating a company culture where employees can adopt transformation with enthusiasm. Developing a company culture that embraces digital change is key to ensure your digital transformation strategy succeeds.Digital transformation gradually takes organisations through different innovation phases and allows them to become nimbler and more competitive in the current market. So start planning your today to succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Embrace Digital Transformation with INAA

Here at INAA, we connect accounting firms who aim to deliver quality professional services around a shared vision to make global business personal, and take personal business global. With every industry change, our collaborative association of international businesses is committed to being a part of the conversation around auditing and accounting.

Join today to start building powerful business relationships.