“None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes. What it boils down to is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison, in what has become one of the most famous quotes on innovation.
Delivering value from novel ideas takes more than creativity or investment, it takes time, testing, and refinement. And it seems from the latest FSN survey that this is something finance teams are lacking.
According to the feedback of more than 1000 respondents across 23 industries, most of them in senior roles, only the minority are committed innovators. 11% consider themselves ‘laggards’, who rarely, if ever, discuss innovation and don’t feel they have time for it. A further 54% consider themselves ‘uncommitted innovators’, who lack the time, funding, or board support to make progress.
Sadly, this comes as no surprise. A lack of support for innovation in back-office functions is a tale we hear constantly, despite solid arguments in favour of investment. Innovation in the finance function can cut risk, enhance strategic insight and enable a more agile organisation, as well as provide immediate benefits to the finance function itself.
FSN reports that the top innovators are much more likely to be able to reforecast within one week than laggards. Their forecasts are more accurate as well, and they can close their books faster.
No one is likely to make the case for investment in finance innovation except the finance function itself. It can be politically challenging, and making time is hard when you’re on an accelerating treadmill of reporting and compliance requirements. But without innovation, this situation only worsens until it reaches a state that is much harder politically than making the case for investment today.
A modern finance function is a critical component of a future-ready organisation, one that can look to the challenges it is facing with confidence that it can adapt and thrive. Finance leaders with a true commitment to building sustainable success must make the case for investment, lobby for board support, and bring investment to their area of the business, as well as the customer-facing functions that have consumed so much investment in recent years.