SoMoClo technologies: transforming how and where business takes place

Foreword

The convergence of collaborative technologies of social, mobile and cloud (SoMoClo) permeates our personal and professional lives, so much so these days that we are often almost unaware we are using them.

Yet we are probably rather more aware of the opportunities offered by the combination of these technologies. The most powerful processing technology can be accessed from almost anywhere. Individuals can share knowledge and work together across business and geographical boundaries with ease. Data is no longer locked away and out of date, but is on tap.

Accountants and other finance professionals now have the opportunity to create the responsive and flexible companies they have perhaps not even contemplated before. Even as the technologies proliferate, however, finance professionals will not necessarily find that using them to drive change is easy, and the process will not be without dangers and challenges along the way. Above all, the move towards a new kind of company is not a purely technological journey but one that will change the way people work: what they do, where they are, what they know, and how they interact with co-workers, colleagues and clients.

ACCA and IMA hope that this report, the first in a series of signature research reporting, will not only give some insight into the challenges and opportunities of SoMoClo for finance professionals, but, above all, will encourage people around the world to experiment and discover even more exciting opportunities for themselves.

Ng Boon Yew
Executive Chairman, Raffles Campus Pte Ltd and Chairman, ACCA Accountancy Futures Academy

Is finance behind the curve? I would say we are getting there but we keep chasing the technology, which is growing rapidly. Is finance too risk averse? No, but we need to be more cautious on choosing which technology in terms of security, durability, functions and popularity. Keith Siu, Chief Financial Officer, Maxim's Group

Executive summary

The term ‘SoMoClo’ – the coming together of social, mobile and cloud technologies –  represents the possibilities unleashed as these rapidly developing technologies begin to  overlap and interact with each other.

Now is the time for finance to take the lead in SoMoClo as it breaks down corporate silos and  enables the creation of a more flexible and agile finance function. People, not technology, will be central to this process, and the roles and skills of finance professionals will change and evolve.

So far finance and accountancy’s adoption of  SoMoClo has been less marked than in other functions, but cloud applications are growing. These applications enable remote working, which in turn encourages social interactions.

Decision support is the killer ‘app’ for finance

For finance, SoMoClo means putting financial data  and financial expertise where it belongs: at the heart of decision making at all levels in the business. Increasing levels of self-service will both free financial professionals to add value by analysis, and bring together financial and non-financial data to add meaning and insight to financial  reporting. Financial data will not only be richer and more relevant but more timely and consistent, as well as easier to access and understand.

Cost and efficiency benefits

As well as adding value to decision making SoMoClo offers numerous opportunities to reduce cost, both directly from automation and self-service and indirectly by eliminating, for example, travel costs and errors. Notably, smaller businesses now have access to the same technologies as the largest enterprises.

Changing the role

Over the longer term, SoMoClo will change the way that finance professionals and accountants work with each other and their colleagues and clients, wherever they are located. Their role will no longer be primarily reactive and backward-looking but proactive, continuous, forward-looking and engaged. Communication becomes both more productive and collaborative, and innovation is encouraged.

Challenges and imperatives

SoMoClo offers a great many challenges to finance, including where to direct investment, and how to  adapt both personally and professionally. Security  and reputational threats cannot be discounted and finance is perhaps in a better position than most to ensure that good governance is not overlooked.

What is clear is that the growth of SoMoClo can  be neither resisted nor ignored. CFOs now need  to take a leadership role in this area. Below are the imperatives for finance.

  • Learn from both the mistakes and successes of early adopters in other functions.
  • Engage and interact across corporate silos to combine data and expertise.
  • Offer insight to enhance decision making not just data.
  • Facilitate innovation in the business rather than using the externded reach of SoMoClo to police it.
  • Move finance profesisonals into the business using mobility and cloud.
  • Automate wherever possibile to concentrate on added value.
  • Dream about new ways for finance to add value: SoMoClo makes so much technically possible that imagination is now almost the only limitation. 
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