Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Short-term outlook hampering Chinese finance leaders’ new technology adoption

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Cost and inability to achieve business buy-in are amongst the main impediments for greater technology adoption by Chinese finance professionals.

Many Chinese finance leaders are taking a short-term view when it comes to adopting new technology. It has been revealed that 23% believe that there is no pressing need to adopt new technology given their current business models. This is despite clear and obvious signs that technology is transforming businesses in every industry around the world.

This is one of the key findings of Deloitte’s latest China CFO Survey, which quizzed 138 Chinese finance leaders between February and March this year about their view on the impact of emerging technology.

Respondents cited the cost of technology and the inability to gain business buy-in as further deterrents to increased technology adoption.

Efficiency gains

Where finance departments are adopting emerging technology to drive value today, respondents reported that efficiency gains were the most important reason by far for doing so. Improved decision making and a reduction in operating expenditure were cited second and third respectively.

Only 14% said that the key driver for new technology adoption was so that the businesses could deliver new products and services to clients. This supports the view that businesses are not adopting technology with a long-term view in mind.

Beyond cloud

Unsurprisingly, cloud is the most used ‘emerging’ technology by Chinese finance departments. However, only 28% of those surveyed are currently using cloud-based solutions, and only 15% are planning to use the technology in the next 12 months.

This is in spite of the value that the cloud-based delivery of services can deliver with respect to costs and efficiencies. Concerns about security or local realities may be preventing further adoption.

AI, robotics and advanced analytics are technologies that finance teams are using already or are very keen to adopt over the coming months. These solutions, currently in vogue, are seen as being able to help finance departments achieve their objectives of driving efficiency and improving decision-making.

Only 7% claimed they were using blockchain and 8% were planning to engage in blockchain projects over the coming months. This suggests that the hype around the technology has cooled off.

Future adoption

Whilst technology is largely being implemented to drive benefits in the here and now, Chinese finance leaders are acutely aware that great change is coming.

Whilst many are yet to respond to this changing environment, 68% said that they believe between 50% and 100% of finance processes will be significantly altered by technology in the next five years.

There is also a recognition that finance leaders need to become more proactive in their adoption of new technology, with 87% suggesting that this is the case. Deloitte suggests that doing so will help finance better manage increasing cost pressures, deal with increasingly complex demands from the business and better manage changes in the economic and regulatory landscape.

Call of duty

“CFOs must take on the responsibility for being the advocates and catalysts for change by driving strategic planning as well as creating the processes to manage implementation and measure success,” the report concludes. “This will ensure the benefits are realised throughout the organisation and companies can stay ahead of the competition.”

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