Nancy Rademaker has more than 25 years of experience exploring how technology transforms society. She has worked for many IT companies, including five years at Microsoft in the Netherlands and Europe.


Nancy Rademaker will be a keynote speaker at IMA’s Accounting & Finance European Conference, taking place on April 18, 2024, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where she’ll present on “Finding the Sweet Spot Between High Tech and High Touch.”


Enthusiastic about people and customer-centric strategies, Rademaker is most passionate about how technology influences people’s behavior and how it helps them to share knowledge, create, and innovate. Her areas of expertise include digital transformation, extreme customer centricity, employee experience, disruption, AI, business model change, and leadership.


Rademaker is also the co-founder of two start-ups: Speakers Club, which provides training and coaching for speakers and businesspeople to enhance their speaking skills, and, a visual storytelling company that connects artists with business professionals who would like to make ideas become tangible illustrations.


Strategic Finance: What are the most common frustrations among business leaders in terms of connecting with the customer in a digital world?


Nancy Rademaker: The most common frustrations in my view are threefold. First, customer behavior in the digital space keeps changing. Customers today have vastly different expectations and ways of engaging with brands compared to even a few years ago. And so, the challenge lies in keeping up with these changing behaviors and preferences. Second, in the current Digital Age, we have an abundance of data, which might provide the opportunity to extract meaningful insights. Although that’s a positive thing, companies often struggle with these huge amounts of data. They’re overwhelmed by the volume of information, with the risk of leading to analysis paralysis. And third, even though customers expect personalized experiences, they’re also more conscious about their privacy. European Union policy makers recently signed the AI Act, the world’s first comprehensive AI law, and that, coupled with data laws like GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] already in place, makes it challenging for businesses to balance personalization with respect for privacy.



Nancy Rademaker



SF: What do you think are the benefits of visual storytelling, and why is good visual storytelling underutilized in business?


NR: Our human brain processes visual information much faster than it does text. More importantly, not only is visual information processed faster (13 milliseconds!), but it’s also retained more effectively (the scientific term for this is the “pictorial superiority effect”). This demonstrates that visual storytelling should be utilized in business, which, unfortunately, still isn’t the case. If you want to clarify or summarize financial reports, visual stories are just great, both for understanding and for being memorable.


Using hand-drawn images (rather than computer-generated ones) has been proven to augment the benefits even more. I believe the reason that it isn’t being done is that most of us feel uncomfortable drawing, which is exactly why we founded With this platform, users can translate complex information into compelling and easy-to-remember visuals, without having to do any drawing at all.


SF: What would you like to see educational institutions do to improve students’ comfort level with advanced technology?


NR: I would urge educational institutions to incorporate much more technology into their curricula. But that’s easier said than done. The problem is that many of the educators themselves struggle with the rapid evolution (exponential by nature!) of technology. I would argue that more collaboration with businesses could greatly help and prepare students in a better way for their professional lives.


Collaboration amongst institutions in the development and offering of more online courses might also help. Next to that, it must be said that there’s recently been great resistance within education about the use of ChatGPT by students, causing some universities to return to handwritten exams. My response to that is: How can you prepare students for a life in a world full of technology while denying them the use of it in their education?


SF: Do you believe there’s a connection between employer adoption of technology and worker job satisfaction? More specifically, does removing tedious and routine tasks give workers more room for creativity and innovation?


NR: I do believe there is a significant connection between the adoption of technology in the workplace and worker job satisfaction in accounting and finance. If repetitive tasks are automated, employees can focus on more complex and engaging work, which may lead to increased job satisfaction as they feel their skills are being utilized more effectively. They will also have more mental space and time, which indeed allows them to engage in more creative and innovative activities. At the same time, that may also contribute to a better work-life balance.


The transition toward a more technology-driven business can also be challenging for some workers, though, especially for those who may feel uncomfortable with new technologies or fear job displacement. Extensive and proper training and reassurance of job security will be essential.


It’s crucial to bear in mind that for any business, a shift in technology will demand a shift in culture first—one that supports innovation, continuous learning, and adaptation. And in my experience, this is precisely what leaders find the most challenging.


According to a recent survey by the U.K.’s Department of Education, finance is among the industries where jobs are most exposed to AI. Especially with generative AI, this can have a very disruptive effect on the business models within the industry, leaving many leaders losing sleep at night. For example, how do you go from a billable hours times rate for a business model if generative AI can reduce those billable hours by say 60% to 70%? And what if customers can now do their own analyses and detect market trends? The challenge for businesses in finance will be to protect the company’s knowledge and use it in their own LLM [large language model] to allow for significantly better and or more predictive analyses than those publicly available.

About the Authors