by Federica Tedeschi

Fi­nan­cial Ex­ec­u­tives In­ter­na­tional Canada (FEI Canada), a networking association for financial executives, has re­leased a white pa­per on how the ma­jor­ity of Cana­dian se­nior fi­nan­cial ex­ec­u­tives agree that to stay com­pet­i­tive in an in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal world their busi­nesses must be­come more dig­i­tal them­selves, but that only a mi­nor­ity of or­ga­ni­sa­tions have fully em­braced dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to trans­form the way they work.

The study also showed that investing in digital initiatives without a comprehensive strategy for transformation limits success, it also pointed that Canada’s largest companies should look to their smaller counterparts, who appear to be further along the digital transformation continuum.

An online survey of 91 financial executives from small, mid-size and large com­pa­nies across var­i­ous sec­tors and in­dus­tries found that 79% of re­spon­dents agree dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is im­por­tant to stay com­pet­i­tive and that the dig­i­tal space will have a ma­jor im­pact on their busi­ness in the next three years (78%). However, only about one quar­ter have a de­fined or­ga­ni­za­tion-wide strat­egy for dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion and only as many as 15% have im­ple­mented that strat­egy.

More detailed data reveal that while 70% of the smaller and mid-size businesses rank their digital initiatives among their highest priorities, only 45% of businesses with revenues in excess of $1bn reckon digital initiatives as a relatively high strategic priority, with an equal number reporting it as a relatively low strategic priority.

The top three cited objectives for launching digital initiatives, which are not affected by the size of the organisation, were improving the way an organization uses information and real time data (47%), improving the customer and partner experience by being able to act more quickly (41%), as well as enhancing the way employees work and collaborate using digital tools (39%).

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What was peculiar, and perhaps a missed opportunity, was the finance department’s lack of interest in blockchain/digital ledger technology, which is considered a game-changer by the accounting sector. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates 10% of global GDP will be stored on blockchains by 2025.