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APAC firms in developed markets warm up to cloud ERP

A majority of large enterprises in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore are planning to move their financial applications to the cloud within a year

More than 60% of large enterprises in developed Asia-Pacific markets plan to move their financial systems to the cloud, a survey by Workday has found.

In addition, a third of these enterprises, located in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore, plan to do so within a year, underscoring the growing appetite for cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications in the region.

Entitled Finance disrupted: the changing role of the CFO in large enterprises, the survey report noted that finance teams face an unenviable task of predicting the future while managing conventional workloads and meeting obligations to achieve business growth.

At the same time, they are also grappling with technology disruption that is revolutionising the finance function, it added.

“Finance professionals are now expected to be knowledgeable on digitalisation, IT services and even cyber security – the finance role is moving beyond the traditional finance function,” said James Harkin, vice-president for Workday Financials.

“The uptake of cloud is on the rise because of the ever-increasing pressure for finance to be a more strategic partner to the business. Finance leaders now have to answer questions such as, ‘Where do we grow fastest? Where do we need to invest, and what are potential expansion areas for the business?’”

Harkin said those questions are challenging because the systems that many businesses have in place were not designed to support finance as a business partner. As a result, finance teams have had to transform to meet the needs of the business, he added. 

The survey involving more than 300 senior finance executives also found that the lack of data and insights has been a challenge, with half of them acknowledging that a lack of up-to-date market knowledge was a significant barrier to providing more strategic advice.

This was followed by a lack of industry benchmarking for comparisons (48.5%) and lack of time and resources (46.5%).

Like their counterparts in other business functions grappling with data silos, most finance professionals lack a single source of truth for data, with more than half using more than two different systems to collate their data. About 16% are using more than six sources for data collation.

This problem was most acute in New Zealand and Singapore where almost one in five of respondents (18.8%) relied on more than six data sources.

“Finance leaders are now realising that moving to the cloud and consolidating their systems gives them real-time data analytics capabilities that can help inform decision-making, manage risks and plan for the future. It also enhances security,” Harkin said.

Cloud-based financial applications are also finding their way into smaller firms. Singapore-based online grocery store Redmart, for instance, switched to a cloud-based financial application several years ago to streamline operations as it scales its business. It has also slashed the time it took to close the books from 10 days to just three days.

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