As CFOs anchor themselves in an increasingly volatile landscape, they will face a series of operational and cultural challenges. At a tactical level, CFOs will need to implement processes to combat lingering pushback to automation within their organizations and ensure they leverage all the data at their disposal. Once the technologies are in place, however, they will need to continue to build the case for change and position themselves as a transformative force across the enterprise.
Overcoming cultural constraints
Not all CFOs have the power to enact initiatives like automated financial systems and digitalization. Today, only 34% of finance tasks are automated — a surprisingly low rate. Even more alarming? CFOs anticipate that less than 50% of all finance tasks will be performed by machines by 2021.
So what’s holding CFOs back? Apprehension is one reason — 38% of those we surveyed are worried about employee resistance to working with non-human colleagues. This puts the onus of automation on CFOs as they juggle their current responsibilities.
Getting a grip on data
CFOs are looking to leverage data proactively so they can help decision makers craft a more insights-driven strategy.
But so far, 53% of CFOs worry that the finance function is reactive or that data and information-sharing processes aren’t streamlined. What’s more, 46% expect to still feel this way in two years’ time.
Capturing crucial data is also a concern. Of the finance leaders surveyed, less than half are capturing key potential benefits of data analysis:
- Value creation
- Improved compliance
- Identification of future risks and opportunities
- Wider technology adoption throughout the business
- Increased connectivity with other areas of the enterprise
Inspiring the enterprise
Some 64% of the CFOs surveyed are concerned about being out of sync with the rest of their company given the challenges they face pushing forward with digital transformation. These finance executives will have to take action to reassure themselves they are on the right long-term track. The following steps can help ensure CFOs automate operations at the appropriate pace and turn any potential employee resistance to enthusiasm.
Embracing their transformative role
CFOs from high-growth firms are more likely to be driving transformation, planning disruption and targeting value. They are also more likely than others to say their data and analytics capabilities are strong, and that they are implementing real-time or near-real-time monitoring of business performance.
Technology itself won’t lead to improvement, of course.
So how can CFOs embrace their new, transformative role among the C-suite? By crafting clear end goals to ensure that new technologies are fully exploited and connecting the dots between pilot programs and technologies to avoid redundancy. In doing so, both CFOs and their team can become strategic enablers for both the entire organization and future finance talent.