As organisations enter recovery phase in the wake of COVID-19, experts have said new challenges and realities would need to be approached with technology at the center.
According to Chief Finance Officer (CFO) for Middle East Africa Emerging Markets at Microsoft, the setbacks experienced as a result of the pandemic have been unlike any seen before, adding that the impact seen on the financials of industries and organisations across the globe has been unprecedented, with many not surviving to this point.
Bouarfa said in a statement that CFOs and finance teams, globally, have been hard at work – leading their organisations through the immediate crisis, ensuring the safety and protection of employees, suppliers and key stakeholders; collaborating across functions; assessing liquidity and conserving cash – reaching out early and often to investors to reset performance expectations.
He said, “For those who have managed to transcend the global lockdowns into recovery phase, a new reality has very quickly come to the fore. One that particularly for the CFO, requires a new, agile way of thinking.
“Drawing lessons from these unsettled months, the CFO must now permanently build speed and flexibility into functions that encompass forecasting, planning and resource-allocation processes and incorporate new tools and rapid decision-making protocols into the finance team’s day-to-day work.
“At Microsoft, we’ve always been on a journey to help our customers digitally transform. Whether the challenge has been rooted in growing revenue or allocating resources, technology has proven to be the shortest path to better, more confident action. But to bring technology to life, we believe invest in our people.
“Taking on the notion of ‘Tech Intensity’ – which is an organisations rate of technology adoption along with its ability to build its own digital capacity, as we enter recovery and reestablishment, we encourage CFO’s to take risks, learn, educate and as a result, feel comfortable enough to embrace change beyond COVID-19.”
On rebuilding business operations, Bouarfa said as organisations start to discuss the return to the physical office space, remote working and hybrid working environments would remain at the center of operations.
He stated that employees across all functions would continue to work remotely using modern workplace collaboration tools and organisations will therefore need to invest significantly in workforce engagement and training in new skills.
“CFO’s will also need to consider making a significant shift from fixed capital costs to variable costs by leveraging as a service models like Microsofts Azure SaaS, PaaS and IaaS, employing technology driven methodologies to foster cost transparency,” he added.
He also recommended relooking forecasting to enable improved decision making, explaining that no one could have predicted a global pandemic and the ramifications thereof twelve months ago and that while forecasting and scenario planning serve exactly that purpose, taking into account market fluctuations, disasters and the like, it naturally did not factor in the kind of impact the pandemic has seen.
“Moving into an era of ‘Modern finance’, CFOs must embrace advanced analytics to move from backward-looking analysis to future-looking predictions and recommendations,” he said.