How has technology affected companies’ financial planning? CFOs have their say

CFOs at top companies in Cyprus have shared their experience and know-how to reveal if and how technology has created new roles and departments and how this has impacted businesses’ financial planning.

As part of GOLD magazine’s March cover story, the CFOs answered the question ‘Have technological advancements led to new roles or departments within the company? How has this affected the company’s financial planning?’

Thirteen CFOs were interviewed and we feature a selection of the answers from seven below.

They are pictured above, left to right, Ioannis Treppides, Deputy CFO, Ygia Polyclinic Private Hospital, Michael Petrides, CFO, European University Cyprus (top), George Hiletis, Deputy CEO/CFO, Keo plc, Theodosis Hadjigeorgiou, CFO, Zorbas Group, George Charalambous, CFO, UW Group (top), Iacovos Mylonas, CFO, MY MALL, Limassol and Andreas Michael, CFO, Bioland Energy Group of Companies.

Ioannis Treppides, Deputy CFO, Ygia Polyclinic Private Hospital: In healthcare, the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) by the NHS and health information systems (HIS) by hospitals has simplified record-keeping and patient management and enhanced cost recording and charging accuracy. This has led to the creation of new roles for personnel handling these systems. Technological advancements are set to transform hospitals even further with the adoption of Business Intelligence (BI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) software. Specifically for CFOs, BI software can now help with financial planning and analysis and reporting KPIs in real time. Data analytics is

now even simpler as large volumes of data can be analysed in seconds and provide meaningful insight. These tools can also help with more accurate forecasting and decision-making. Once implemented, financial planning can be done in a more efficient and effective way. CFOs are already using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems for record keeping and reporting and we see that data analytics tools, business intelligence software and AI-powered forecasting models have started emerging as the new tools to be adopted to streamline financial processes, improve efficiency, mitigate risks and take data-driven decisions. Some of the software we currently use includes SAP as our ERP System, electronic health records, a health information system (HIS) and we are in the process of implementing BI software for data analytics.

Michael Petrides, CFO, European University Cyprus: At the leadership level, most companies now have a dedicated CTO managing their IT strategy and, most importantly, their cybersecurity. This position did not officially exist in many organisational charts a decade ago. More specifically, as a fully comprehensive university at the cutting edge of technological advancements in both teaching and administration, our entire modus operandi has been completely transformed. An increasing proportion of our students select degree programmes where the content is delivered fully online or hybrid. Technological advancements mean they can enrol, manage their classes, sit invigilated exams and pay their fees without ever setting foot on campus. Our Admissions and Marketing departments have evolved accordingly to facilitate this demand. We now have fully dedicated teams managing our online sales channels, our interactive website and our social media content. In terms of the financial planning impact, we will continue to commit more resources year on year to all these initiatives with the objective of improving and enhancing our student experience. I’m not quite sure if a technophobe would actually survive as a CFO in today’s dynamic workplace! I use technology for all aspects of my job, including our ERP software, BI analytics, consolidation and reporting software and even at the most basic level, Excel and Teams meeting software. Technology has enabled CFOs to make significant strides in productivity, primarily by speeding up processes and improving the completeness and accuracy of data we use to drive decisions.

George Hiletis, Deputy CEO/CFO, Keo plc: While technological advancements have not led to new roles or departments within the company, they have altered existing ones. For example, when it comes to the accounting function, the advancement of information technology has led to the transformation of the accounting clerk’s work into a more analytical role that is less preoccupied with data processing. With large volumes of data now more easily processed into information, existing accounting roles can focus on analysing information to understand underlying trends better. It has significantly improved the ability of the organisation to develop more accurate financial planning. Undoubtedly, the use of technology is of great assistance to the CFO. Using advanced software systems has greatly facilitated the collection and processing of large volumes of data, allowing for data-driven decision-making, enabling CFOs to make more informed decisions, create more complete forecasts and better understand the underlying trends and factors driving financial performance. At KEO plc, we use several technological tools, the main one being Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Through an advanced ERP system, the organisation integrates and effectively manages all its business processes (finance, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, etc.) under one roof.

Theodosis Hadjigeorgiou, CFO, Zorbas Group: New technologies and digital transformation are here to stay, and as such, we must embrace them and find the right ways to use them. As an innovative and modern company, Zorbas Group embraced technological advancements from day one, creating new services for customers and staff, as well as new professional roles within the company. We analyse data in a more detailed and in-depth manner, performing sensitivity analysis using both internal and external information. Based on the outcome, we take the appropriate decisions and make changes to the company’s operations and financial planning. AI has the potential to free up time for the human workforce, increase productivity and create new possibilities for workers as well as businesses. It’s important for the CFO to be aware of these tools and at the same time understand the challenges facing each individual department. Knowing this, you can help your colleagues with their duties, set and implement a specific strategy and meet the company’s objectives. In this context, AI is an important tool, as it can analyse massive datasets and provide results, making operations even faster.

George Charalambous, CFO, UW Group: Technological advancements have led to a number of new roles within the company. Now, departments are focusing on analytics, data management, data visualisation and research and this has an impact on corporate sales and financial planning. Our company recognised these needs and invested in an all-in-one integrated cloud ERP system with automated processes that provides real-time information for our departments’ performance. Technology and AI assist CFOs in their day-to-day operations by providing new forms of data and information. In particular, data management, analytics and data visualisation can provide CFOs with vital information that enables them to manage their business better and makes them more effective and efficient with forecasts and projections. AI can also be used to analyse costs and revenue sources for better operational planning. However, data security must be guaranteed to the end users who implement it.

Iacovos Mylonas, CFO, MY MALL, Limassol: The utilisation of technology and AI has brought a profound transformation to our day-to-day operations, enhancing our efficiency and effectiveness. These advancements have enabled us to concentrate on critical aspects of our business. Technological solutions like Robotic Process Automation have streamlined repetitive, non-judgmental tasks, saving time and resources. Additionally, business insight tools have empowered us to analyze our KPIs with real-time, accurate data, facilitating well-informed decision-making and driving business profitability while delivering value to our stakeholders. The potential of emerging technologies like AI is recognized and we plan to integrate them into our operations soon to enable us to understand the behaviour of our customers better and proactively cater to their needs, thereby enhancing our value proposition.

It’s important to note that the impact of technology extends beyond finance and accounting, benefiting other departments in achieving their objectives. Amidst labour shortages, particularly in low-paying roles, AI-powered robotic machines offer viable solutions to these challenges. Furthermore, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are pivotal in promoting retail products and shaping new consumer trends.

Technology is an integral and enduring aspect of our operational framework. We are actively fostering a culture of embracing technological advancements to navigate the complexities of the current business landscape and continue delivering value to our stakeholders.

Andreas Michael, CFO, Bioland Energy Group of Companies: Technological advancements have led to the creation of new roles and departments and significantly influenced financial planning. In our industry, for example, we have seen the emergence of roles focused on innovation, sustainability and data analytics. These changes require CFOs to allocate resources wisely, invest in research and development, and adapt financial strategies to support long-term growth and competitiveness. Technology and financial modelling software have become vital in forecasting, budgeting, and decision-making. Technology and AI have changed the CFO’s operations, enabling real-time financial analysis, risk management, and strategic forecasting. Tools like ERP systems and AI-based analytics are integral to modern finance functions. Even though we, as Bioland, have done a lot, we still need to invest more. We know that this is vital if we are to succeed.

These interviews first appeared in the March edition of GOLD magazine. Click here to view the interviews with the 13 CFOs.

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