CareCredit - Women's Health April 2024

2024 Is the Year Businesses Put Technical Debt to Bed

2024 Is the Year Businesses Put Technical Debt to Bed

If businesses aren’t focused on what’s coming next, they are missing out.

And coming out of 2023, where the only certainty was uncertainty, one thing is clear: Those who are prepared do better than those who are unprepared.

For businesses in 2024, the digital foundations they have built so far are set to pay off in spades in the New Year as the flywheel of cloud computing, data analytics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) combine to drive new, data-rich workflows that streamline legacy processes and improve organizational competitiveness.

The past year’s ongoing economic uncertainties helped accelerate an increased emphasis on visibility and certainty around cash flow, an area that manual and traditional methods struggle to handle in an effective and scalable way.

The immediate impact of digital integrations includes relying less on manual processes and scaling key processes without the need to increase headcount — all benefits of an effective process modernization that further establishes competitive differentiation.

At the center of modernizing bottlenecked processes with digital solutions and fine-tuning operations sits the chief financial officer, an internal leader whose evolution from back-office bean counter and financial reporter to strategic advisor and corporate financial architect is one that PYMNTS has been closely tracking.

See also: 21 Payments Execs Reflect on 2023’s Strategic Shifts

2024 Will Be Defined by People, Processes and Digital Technology

Long-standing investments in digital transformations increasingly showed a return on investment in 2023, as digital innovations including cloud computing, AI and automation increasingly gave finance teams a single source of insight into their businesses by drawing from more and cleaner operational data than has ever before been available.

At the end of 2023, PYMNTS Intelligence in “Digital Payments Technology: Investing in Payments Systems for the Digital Economy” revealed that the 250 CFOs surveyed were prioritizing their system investments based on long-term considerations like growth and profit.

The CFO, in coordination with the rest of senior leadership, needs to be a key decision maker when it comes to fixing technical debt by ensuring there’s a sound business case behind any investment that will add value to either the business, the bottom line or to shareholders.

“On the technology side, if you’re in a place now where your in-house system looks like it did 20 or 30 years ago, this is a chance to make a huge leap forward,” Ben Lamm, chief operating officer at Capital One Trade Credit, told PYMNTS in August.

That typically means taking costs out of operations and automating manual processes as much as is practical.

Digital transformation has really enabled us to evolve,” PayByPhone CFO Nick Hamill told PYMNTS.

“Embracing new technologies has allowed us to enhance our efficiency, the speed of our decision making, and really our overall competitiveness,” he added.

Read also: Connectivity Defined the Past Decade — Interoperability Will Shape the Next

Automated Tools Are Only as Good as Their Implementation

Despite the compounding intersection of data-rich environments driving digital tools even further with real-time insights that can effectively leverage the growing use of technology to accelerate an organization’s go-forward trajectory, making today’s modern machines work still requires the right people and the right investments.

After all, automating an inefficient process can have the unwanted effect of automating that inherent inefficiency rather than solving for it.

It’s hard to innovate and gain the full benefits of modernization initiatives when new digital experiences “crash into 30-year-old technology stacks,” Form3 CEO Mike Walters told PYMNTS in November.

Echoing that sentiment, Connatix CFO Joe Pergola told PYMNTS in November: “There’s a lot of innovation, but I think the entire ecosystem needs a lot of investment to speed things up.”

Well-implemented tools create new efficiencies, and communication around a business’s specific needs and growth targets is crucial to effective implementations.

“From a CFO perspective, we need to engage and partner with our counterparts in the organization, such as the CIO, to align around how to deploy technologies, how much to spend on technologies, what’s the pace of change around that … because there is this benefit that you may not see for the first 12, 24, 30, 36 months, but it’s the right thing to do,” DPR Construction CFO Angela Floyd told PYMNTS in August.

“The most successful CFOs are those that think broadly and can open up the aperture beyond the financials,” VillageMD CFO Richard Rubino told PYMNTS in September.

“You have to look out three or five years,” he added. “If you don’t have a strategic plan for your business, priority one is to make one. It is not a spreadsheet, it’s not a PowerPoint deck; it is a story that anticipates where the puck is going — because you want to be the first one there.”

Still, as Altruist CFO Marc Greenberg told PYMNTS in September: “You can’t spend money on everything, and you have to take a long-term view … it is important for finance leaders to be ruthless in their prioritization when it comes to making digital investments.”

And Versatile Credit CEO Ed O’Donnell told PYMNTS in December that organizations are “not going to put rose-colored glasses on” when it comes to new tech deployments. “They want to see demonstrated movement.”

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