Finance Excelleration – 5 Essential Digital Business Capabilities

By Nilly Essaides, Gerhard Urbasch, and Sean Mullane
April 19, 2021
Season 1, Episode 20

Host Nilly Essaides, Senior Director of Research for The Hackett Group’s Advisory program talks with Gerhard Urbasch, Associate Principal and Sean Mullane, Director, Finance Transformation about how the pandemic has driven finance organizations to accelerate their digital transformation, and demonstrated the value of digital to improve decisionmaking, enhance agility, and provide efficiency gains.

Show Notes 

Tune in to this episode of the Business Excelleration Podcast—hosted by The Hackett Group, a global leader in defining and enabling world-class performance. Hearing from the top experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours, and celebrate milestones, this episode focuses on the rapid digitization acceleration within the finance industry and the five essential capabilities of such digitization.

Nilly Essaides guides today’s conversation alongside Gerhard Urbasch and Sean Mullane. They begin by sharing their own observations regarding the rapid company-wide digital transformations that have taken place recently. The pandemic has been a huge wake up call for digitization, changing mindsets towards digital transformation and enduring change. Finance is a key driver in digitization acceleration, which begins with an integrated and functional intentional digitizing strategy. This can take the form of accounting hubs or AI driven narrative style reporting.

Digitization is a key factor in ensuring the financial world works as efficiently and effectively as possible. While driving cost out is important, moving up the analytic curve is just as important. Three key themes of this digital journey which stand out are the transition to the Cloud, automating core financial processes and harvesting the analytics into usable sets. Five essential capabilities of digitization can be established. That includes digital engagement, digital workforce and organization, digital service optimization, digital ecosystems and analytics-driven business insight. The challenge for the finance industry is to leverage the ever growing flood of data and gain competitive advantage.

Sean elaborates on a few additional capabilities he has seen demonstrated: automation, visualization and self-service. In the area of predictive analytics, advanced analytics will be used for analysis on planning drivers to support the financial forecast. In closing, Gerhard and Sean offer tips for other industries struggling to fast-track new digital strategies. The Hackett Group recommends to first conduct a rapid scan assessment, then sizing the opportunity, followed by placing a bet and finally, chart the digital strategy.


  • 0:57 – Nilly introduces today’s topic and guests.
  • 1:30 – How have companies been forced to speed up the process of digital transformation?
  • 4:07 – Implications of business drivers for the finance function.
  • 5:57 – Conversations with CFOs regarding recent acceleration factors.
  • 9:25 – Five essential capabilities of going digital.
  • 11:13 – How technology can be leveraged to create critical capabilities.
  • 13:40 – Examples of clients moving rapidly up the digital curve.
  • 16:00 – Tips for implementing new digital strategies.