A look at how work is changing and what that means for your finance team
The role of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) continues to evolve and I (and many of my counterparts) are finding an ever greater emphasis on company strategy, value add and the ability to future-proof. CFOs are always looking ahead for innovative ways to identify, drive and benefit from change. Working for a technology-driven company like Bulletproof, this is an even more pressing concern.
Being strategic and value-focused
I recently presented at the 2017 Finance & Innovation Tech Fest about the future of work exploring, how the next 20 years will impact us. My presentation gave us a chance to explore the impacts on how people work, the opportunities offered through change, how to future-proof your team and what Bulletproof are seeing as an organisation enabling change for our customers.
Technology driving change
The changes affecting workers now and in the near future are well publicised: cloud technology, automation of work, machine learning and the use of analytics to drive decision making.
The challenge affecting workers is twofold: firstly, how to keep pace with these changes and secondly, how to add value as workloads shift.
I think there’s five questions to consider as we ponder the future of work:
- What jobs will we have?
- How can we remain happy at work?
- Where will we work?
- How will we work?
- How will we be paid?
Shifting demands for staff
Something else worth considering is that technology predictions are just that, predictions. For instance, two roles were flagged as being redundant due to technology: Bank tellers and supermarket checkout staff. Instead, as technology and customer behaviour evolved, we still see well-staffed bank branches around our cities and towns, and staff still patrol self-serve checkout areas to assist customers in supermarkets.
As a bit of fun, what are some of the top 20 predicted jobs in 2030? In 13 years’ time, we could see Body Part Maker, Memory Augmentation Surgeon, Weather Modification Police and Virtual Clutter Organiser as connections on LinkedIn. Or, we may not.
AI and Machine Learning
One of the exciting areas is Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. These are two innovative areas that will affect the future of work. Firstly, let’s look at AI. AI is man-made intelligence and also refers to software that manifests intelligence.
There’s three types of AI:
- Artificial Narrow Intelligence
- Artificial General Intelligence
- Artificial Super Intelligence
Machine Learning is data analysis that automates analytical model building. Machine Learning allows computers to uncover hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look. Underneath the banner of Machine Learning, we can also highlight three broad categories as well:
How is Bulletproof changing?
So, what changes are we seeing at Bulletproof? The conversations we’re having with customers are examining how their business is currently positioned and taking a close look at their maturity levels in terms of digital transformation. This leads to conversations about helping organisations progress on their cloud journey, from migrating into cloud, to maturing towards being an innovator and able to adopt application functions to better predict customer demands. This has also meant that Bulletproof has changed as well. Increasingly there is a change in emphasis within our own business towards adding consulting and professional services to complement more traditional managed cloud services.
CFOs managing teams in the future
As a CFO, what does this all mean? Firstly, that cloud technology is an enabler for CFOs (and Finance teams) to be innovative. It’s also an opportunity for CFOs to become Agile CFOs, rather than more traditional, task-oriented, linear CFOs. Given the forecasted top 3 required skills for 2020 are all relating to human emotional traits we may need to polish up on our skillset outside of technical competency.
To put this into context for finance professionals, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) released a study last year detailing the seven most important attributes to succeed in modern business. Of these seven attributes, I’ve got three focus areas to help future proof myself:
- Vision (VQ): Future thinking, future planning, predicting future trends with accuracy
- Creativity (CQ): New business models focused on value creation
- Digital (DQ): Awareness and application of existing and emerging technology such as aforementioned AI, Machine Learning and with Blockchain as well.
With that in mind, what do you need to do to be a leader in a changing workforce? I’ve seen this first hand but there’s a shift from managing teams based on their output to a focus on measuring people on their outcomes aligned to the broader business vision; That you can’t lead by needing to ‘see’ your team (“Face time”); That it’s important to remove silos and enable cross-functional teams across your business to add fresh perspectives and approaches to problem solving.
This might lead you to think about what’s next. Let me leave you with four questions and things to consider.
- Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
- What skills do I need to acquire?
- How can I manage a team in a changing workforce?
- Am I futureproof? Am I bulletproof?
By Paula Kensington – Chief Financial Officer at Bulletproof.