The world is changing at a breakneck pace. If businesses want to remain ahead of the curve, they must be nimble and predictive, and they must interact with the appropriate personnel and new technology at the right moment to obtain a competitive advantage.
However, there are several technology and business processes in use, all of which are always evolving. It might be difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise – and to choose the best approach.

Even when an organization decides on a plan, other variables might obstruct its adoption. Making any approach work requires knowing how to ask the proper questions, who to ask, and where to go for answers.

Consider the difficulties associated with digital transition.

Any contemporary corporate plan must include digital transformation. Old software, platforms, and procedures are no longer suitable for contemporary requirements. New software, new platforms, and new procedures must be designed and installed in their place.

However, engineers and IT teams are often in charge of transformation rather than the people who will be affected, such as workers on the shop floor. As a result, conveying company value and effecting meaningful change may be difficult.

Even the most advanced and costly artificial intelligence (AI) in the world may soon become worthless if installed without feedback from the people who will be using it, regardless of whether they believe it would enhance procedures.

However, finding the proper individuals to discuss and recognizing the genuine issues that need to be addressed might be more difficult than it seems.

This was an issue that a Tier 1 financial customer brought to EY. It had previously struggled to execute technological reforms, so it understood the need to create collaborative places where crucial issues could be answered – and solutions formed – before integrating technology into its operations.

The client’s challenge was important but broad: rather than incremental improvements, how can we think about how the finance department serves the company differently? It was specifically looking at how to enhance operations across eight various finance processes, ranging from financial accounting to book closure, by using technology in ways that added actual value.

The customer wanted to bring together the relevant skills to find new views. These dialogues may be difficult to initiate and maintain in big global firms since teams are often dispersed around the globe, business divisions are often compartmentalized, and workers work irregular hours. It was vital to physically bring stakeholders together – and to provide them with the tools they needed to succeed.

Creating an environment where perceptions may be shifted

In fact, this took the shape of a Finance Innovation Lab, which EY’s wavespace1 network helped to create for the client. On this project, the EY Assurance and Consulting teams collaborated to help establish the environment that enabled the client to have these dialogues, bringing our own unique views to the table.

Putting assumptions to the test

Wavespace hosted dozens of key stakeholders in over 150 sessions over the course of an eight-week program, providing them the perspective and collaborative focus they needed to think about and ask questions about the best methods to modernize their financial processes. Simultaneously, participants were tasked with finding practical approaches to evaluate how technological solutions may be used to their financial procedures.

First, the customer determined that the Cloud was the best solution for their purposes. Within wavespace, they began to question their own preconceptions, correctly recognizing that the Cloud could not be seen only as a technological play, but rather as a broader platform that might alter the finance function in a variety of ways.

The customer also pointed up possible stumbling obstacles. They discovered via discussions with many stakeholders that if they concentrated just on technology and ignored the process side of the issue, the intended outcomes would not be achieved.

With the cooperation of the IT and Finance Change teams, EY ensured that the wavespace environment offered the frontline finance professionals with everything they needed to help develop the solution and describe the use cases. Practical, effective solutions started to develop as a result of open discussions among many stakeholder groups.

Creating a plan that is both transformative and quantifiable

The client not only focused their transformation plan to a uniquely Cloud-based approach via creative cooperation inside wavespace, but they also set clearly defined phases that would enable them to achieve actual, quantifiable value.

The client’s teams cooperated on 20 different Cloud-enabled financial concepts during the course of the program. These included the following:

• A data model that produced a single, unified data source for the whole financial function that only has to be changed once, making it simpler and more time-effective for various business units to interact with data in the manner that’s best for them.

• Data quality visualization in real time, allowing for quick data validation (the process of checking data for correctness and usefulness) and data repair (the process of cleaning, organizing and moving data in a way that makes it fit for use). To increase data quality, machine learning and artificial intelligence were used.

• Tools for detailed reporting that split down regular reporting into many dimensions (such as business line or legal entity). These offered transaction-level data and recorded feedback from a variety of stakeholders on each specific product or inquiry.

• Rather than human testing of individual samples, continuous and automatic control monitoring of the whole data population is used.

The customer was able to come up with ideas that resulted in actual, quantifiable value for its finance department – and the company as a whole — thanks to these technologies.

Overall, the customer discovered they could profit from a 300 percent increase in data processing capability, in 25% less time, and at a 30-50 percent lower cost when compared to their previous methods of working.

They noticed the opportunity to eliminate the requirement for manual reconciliations across multiple systems or data sets with these new Cloud-enabled operations. This might free up time and resources for additional value-adding operations, such as lowering the time it takes to close accounting books from up to 20 days to four days.

“We went from “how do we improve finance” – with a certain degree of cynicism around technological goods – to 20 well-thought-through ideas leveraging the Cloud in only 10 weeks,” the customer said. It’s sparked interest among our employees because they can see ways to make finance better, quicker, and cheaper, while also improving the business’s controls, data quality, and reporting.”

Together, we’ll discover the proper way.

The wavespace experience of this client – and the ideas of collaborative, conversational thinking it promotes – may be applied to any business attempting to restructure its operations in order to prepare for a digital future.

It highlights, in particular, how important it is to anchor any technological agenda in real-world, human experiences – rather than abstract ideal situations – if technology solutions are to be successful and beneficial.

Organizations increasingly need to be able to reinvent how they operate in an uncharted environment, with the existing business landscape entirely disrupted by the effect of COVID-19. More than ever, they will need to rethink how their business strategies and activities fit within a global economy that is still reeling from the pandemic’s effects. Organizations will need to embrace change to promote development in order to successfully reinvent themselves throughout this crisis.

However, reimagining, reframing, and reinventing your company won’t be enough if the vision you establish isn’t well-thought out. Organizations can ensure they are pursuing strategies that can deliver genuine value by creating the mental space to think through the challenges posed by COVID-19 – actively seeking different perspectives and challenging assumptions about not just the right paths forward, but also the fundamental issues to be addressed.

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