In its’ 2018 executive survey, AESC BlueSteps ranked the top 5 qualities that help global executives be successful (survey based). After “vision”, on a surprising place 2 came “technological mindset” – something that probably would not have made even the top 5 15-20 years ago.
You (the finance controller / manager / CFO) might ask yourself: “What does this have to do with me? For sure the 2 mandatory weeks of training each year, covering the changes in the accounting standards or the latest SAP’s implemented features should do!” Right?
Very wrong. During the last stagflation decade, companies have under-invested in technology – most notably in the back-Office IT support.
Rightfully so – to stay competitive they were forced to redirect every investment cent to operations and customer-facing functions. But unfortunately, many financial controlling (functions or incumbents) have somehow grown complacent. And this complacency is reflected in the overall mood of companies’ CFOs. Recent surveys show that the CFOs are acutely aware that the Industry 4.0 is here, but the skills are not. According to a Wall Street Journal published article, 44% of CFOs have experienced a rise in difficulties recruiting appropriate technical skills. Many specialized controlling recruiters (e.g. Robert Half, Michael Page, Robert Walters) complain (on behalf of their clients) that technological skills are both increasingly difficult to find and more needed.
This for 2 reasons – CFOs themselves probably feel more that they fall behind the technology learning curve. The other side of the coin -controllers are falling behind too. They have a hard time keeping up with the deadlines, business partnering and the work life balance requirements. No wonder they miss more and more the trees from the forest. When was the last time when you as a controller exhibited some simple tech skills – IPad sheets usage, project management hands on (think apps on the Apple store), or emerging trends in big data analysis – when was your last time you tried to understand a math formula?
Long story short – my dear trusted smart finance controller, next time when your actual or future boss asks you “what new technical skills have you acquired this year?”, please do not mention the revenue recognition power point – or worse, the SAP webcast you attended 6 months ago. Sit back, relax and kick in some millennial slang of what you can do with your IPhone for the business. Might (positively) surprise everybody during the conversation!