By 2030, up to 375 million workers will need completely new sets of skills. Thanks to ongoing advances in digital technologies, such as robotics, advanced analytics, intelligent automation, and artificial intelligence (AI), the way workers perform even the most rudimentary tasks is changing.
To keep pace with digital transformation and changing expectations from the business, finance professionals must evolve quickly and acquire new skills to provide business leaders with more predictive insights that guide strategic decision-making.
Although finance talent is ripe for a major upgrade in skills and capabilities, companies aren't stepping up to the plate. A recent global study on AI by Genpact revealed that more than half (53%) of senior executives say they provide their employees with reskilling or training so that they can take advantage of AI, which is up from 38% in 2017. But only 35% of employees say AI-related training is available to them, and only 27% of the tech-friendly Gen-Z and millennial groups have participated in such training.
The lack of digital skills holds back finance's ability to innovate and the company's ability to transform. Many finance functions are still seen as transactional cost centers and senior executives do not recognize the need to upskill finance teams. Low levels of digital skill sets and resistance to change are two of the top barriers to successfully adopting and executing a digital strategy.
But digital acumen alone is not enough. To play a more transformative role, finance needs to broaden its change management expertise and reshape the skills balance within the team. Adding negotiation, communication, and collaboration skills to the mix builds a more adaptive, effective team.
For example, the CFO of a leading life sciences company sponsored a pilot program using advanced analytics that predicted net revenue twice as accurately as current methods. Instead of quickly adopting it, other powerful stakeholders vetoed the advanced approach because they feared losing control of forecasts, which had implications for performance bonuses.
People's resistance is generally caused by multiple factors, including fear of the unknown, anxiety regarding possible job loss, fear of not being able to upskill or reskill to meet changing job roles, and overall unwillingness to change. Had the CFO and the finance team had stronger communication skills, the result may have been different.