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Indo-French CFO Forum: Going Digital A Top Priority For CFOs

Finance leaders are banking on digitisation for enhancing business value.

The Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IFCCI) organized its very 1st Edition of the Indo-French CFO Forum on Wednesday, 27th February under the aegis of IFCCI CFO Committee with support from the Embassy of France and Knowledge Partner, PwC India. Discussions revolved around on the 'Indian economic reforms, Interim Budget and the changing roles of CFOs in the world of digitisation' were led by Mr. Sugata Sircar - CFO of Schneider Electric and Chairman of IFCCI CFO Committee. 

The panelists included: Mr. Jean-Marc Fenet, Minister-Counsellor & Head - Regional Economic Dept., Embassy of France; Ms. Tanushree Bagrodia - CFO & VP-IT, NRB Bearings Ltd.; Mr. Rajat Roy - Executive Director & VP Finance, Accor Hotels India & South Asia; Mr. Rohit Anand - Partner, India-France Corridor, PWC; and Mr. Sugata Sircar - CFO of Schneider Electric and Chairman of IFCCI CFO Committee.

Finance executives are today increasingly looking at digitization for improving business insights and compliance processes as they look forward to staying ahead in a volatile market environment.

“A lot of work is being done in the easiest manner like the transactions or the payments process have become automated in most companies. Next phase I will say is around getting quality and timely data from the dashboards, and subsequently performing trend analysis and forecasting,” said Sugata Sircar, Chief Financial Officer at Schneider Electric.

But collecting data and forecasting trends may be a challenge for the companies, especially the ones in the manufacturing space. This is because data in their case may not be perfect as it is typically not streamlined. 

“Data for manufacturing companies could either be through a channel or a distributor. But say for instance e-commerce companies have almost perfect data; they have been using trend analysis and forecasting with great success,” said Sircar. 

Also deciding upon investments for the digital is not seen easy! “The challenge is how do CFOs assess investments in these type of areas? How much money you decide you want to put in?” he asked.

The CFO also touched upon the potential use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in areas like concurrent audits or reading out contracts in the company to show up the associated risks.

For Tanushree Bagrodia, apart from the business side, digitisation has benefits to offer on the compliance front too. 

“I will say CFOs are today spending a lot of time in ensuring compliance and record keeping. That’s where digitization will come in,” Bagrodia said adding millennials will play an integral role in this whole process. Building in-house team will be further be crucial to save on costs, she pointed.

Accor Hotels’ Roy concluded saying re-skilling in finance function will be a key for success of digitization, while admitting that calculating return on investment in such areas will not be an easy task going forward.

Source : ET CFO

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