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Top 3 Trends Driving Change In Finance & Accounting

Insights And Implications For Businesses In Singapore
Lee Thompson
BY Lee Thompson


  • Organisations are turning to digital solutions to streamline financial operations and empower F&A teams to succeed, driving greater business success in turn.
  • To elicit meaningful insights from data, data analytics capabilities will become increasingly essential.
  • A more streamlined and informed F&A function improves business resilience and agility, and helps futureproof operations.
  • Technology can help to harness the power of data, and informed and knowledgeable people are needed to turn the data into actionable insights for the organisation.

The wealth of data now available at business leaders’ fingertips continues to drive digital transformation for organisations worldwide, including in Singapore and more widely, across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. Increasingly, organisations are reaping the benefits of near-real-time data, using trends and deep data insights to uncover opportunities to significantly impact their operations, leading to improvements and increased productivity that positively impact the bottom line.

As part of this transformation, business leaders are investing in digital solutions that empower their organisations to keep pace with the competitive landscape. In particular, companies are taking the opportunity to integrate innovative technologies that harness the power of data to streamline and futureproof their businesses. One specific area of operations that has seen continued interest and transformation is the finance and accounting (F&A) function.

While F&A may once have been seen as a cost centre for businesses, over time, the broader organisational understanding has evolved to recognise that it is much more. In fact, F&A is the real driving force behind every business as key decisions are made based on financial data that can lead to business success. As the engine room for business operations, the role of F&A is growing to include more responsibilities, such as governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), headcount and internal controls, and environment and social initiatives, among others. However, complex F&A processes can create significant challenges for companies which do not have the right resources to implement or manage them.

To better understand the changing business landscape and how digital transformation across F&A functions can transform organisations for the better, BlackLine commissioned data analyst firm Telsyte to survey 370 finance decision-makers across APAC, including 110 from Singapore, from organisations that had 200 or more employees. The respondents represented a variety of industries including services; production and distribution; education and training; construction; retail trade; healthcare and social assistance; hospitality, and government. 


The research findings uncovered key insights into the modern F&A requirements driving digital transformation strategies across Singapore, as well as the focus areas for organisations looking to futureproof their F&A operations.

As the role of F&A continues to evolve, the ways in which F&A teams deliver value to their organisations is also changing. In particular, organisations are recognising that the inherent value of F&A teams comes from the activities they contribute to, which can influence the company’s overall success. Additionally, there is increased focus on how more value can be derived from the F&A function by eliminating outdated manual processes and empowering F&A teams to contribute to more high-value tasks.

In light of this changing understanding of the F&A function, organisations are turning to digital solutions to streamline financial operations and empower F&A teams to succeed, driving greater business success in turn. The research from BlackLine and Telsyte uncovered three influential trends driving change across Singaporean businesses. 

Trend 1: Enhancing data analytics capabilities

One of the biggest trends driving digital transformation and change across Singaporean businesses is the need to improve data analytics capabilities. For example, organisations across Singapore have reported that improving their financial data and reporting accuracy (42%) and gaining better data analytics capabilities to assist decision-making intelligence (41%) are among their top priorities for the next three years.

Business leaders recognise that data has value. However, without adequate processes and technologies in place to better understand the data in front of them, they are potentially missing opportunities to streamline their operations. And, as the F&A function continues to evolve, comprehensive data analytics capabilities will become increasingly essential to success. For 96% of businesses, the F&A function is essential to facilitate real-time visibility into the company’s performance, so it’s critical that finance teams have access to the latest data analytics tools to uncover key insights that help drive improved performance.

To gain deeper data insights, 15% of organisations are looking to unify their data and processes, combining them into a single source to help drive improvements across their operations. Achieving a single, centralised source of data helps eliminate information siloes. This empowers organisations to realise a more holistic view of their operations, which lets them see inconsistencies or areas of improvement that may have been more difficult to spot in the past. 

Trend 2: Prioritising business resilience and agility

For many Singaporean businesses, one of the biggest benefits of a more streamlined and informed F&A function is its capability to improve business resilience and agility, which are essential to futureproofing operations. Improving business resilience is a key driver for 61% of organisations in Singapore, while 53% of them also report that improving business process and agility is critical.

One of the biggest needs for a more agile and resilient F&A function is the capacity for F&A team members to take on expanding roles and responsibilities. As the role of the F&A team grows, team members need more time to contribute to other activities, which can be difficult when their time is monopolised by time-consuming manual processes. By eliminating manual activities and leveraging automation and smart technologies to streamline F&A, businesses can free up their team members to contribute to more meaningful activities across the business.

Additionally, changes to the F&A function will create flow-on effects for the rest of the organisation, especially when it comes to improving business resilience and agility. If the F&A function can make business decisions quickly, more improvements can be realised across other departments. Every Singaporean business (100%) surveyed by BlackLine and Telsyte reported that there was a need to further optimise the F&A function across their operations, so it’s clear that businesses in Singapore are prepared to make changes that will improve their operations now and into the future. 

Trend 3: The convergence of people and technology

The final trend across Singaporean businesses is the convergence of people and technology, which ultimately underpins the other key drivers identified by this research. Nearly half (44%) of organisations reported that their business does not have the talent, knowledge or tools needed to leverage F&A data insights to improve business operations. This means that, even though businesses want to improve their resilience and agility and uncover deeper data insights, they still face significant challenges in achieving this.

As a result, businesses need to find ways to combine people with technology to achieve success. Almost all businesses recognise they need to invest more in upgrading staff knowledge (95%) and talent pipeline management (94%) in tandem with software services and systems (94%).

Every organisation surveyed (100%) saw a role for software in helping their business retain talent, which would go a long way to eliminate the high costs associated with staff retention and acquisition, an issue for 39% of organisations. Additionally, 49% of businesses reported delays in processes, such as financial reporting and data analytics, which could be resolved through the use of software.

Organisations see a need for people to work alongside technology to achieve success, especially when it comes to the F&A function. Technology can help to harness the power of data; however, it’s critical that informed and knowledgeable people are on hand to digest that data and turn it into actionable insights for organisations.

Where technology and people converge is the sweet spot for business success, especially when this can be further strengthened with the help of processes to help eliminate the potential for lost knowledge as F&A team members transition through the business to new roles. 


Businesses across Singapore see a need for the F&A function to continue to evolve and are taking steps to address this with the support of continued digital transformation. For most businesses, this includes investing in technologies that help to harness the power of data, as well as technologies that leverage automation to help streamline processes and free up F&A talent to contribute to other meaningful activities across operations.

For more information about the current F&A trends influencing business operations in the Singapore region, download the full report here.

Lee Thompson is Senior Vice President – Asia Pacific & Japan, BlackLine.

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