CFOs are today expected to serve as an architect in leading enterprise-wide transformation efforts, while also managing macro economic pressures such as rising inflation, supply chain problems and a tightening labor market among other things.
Navigating these challenges requires CFOs to offer real-time, predictive and accurate insights that can help their organizations make the right decisions without compromising on profitability. Unfortunately, few CFOs today run finance teams that are equipped with the right tools and technologies that can help create value and deliver on their organization’s technology roadmap.
The situation is fairly dire. In a Gartner’s survey of 200 CFOs, 0% of the survey respondents said that their teams were focussed on value creation. Here’s another shocking stat: Less than four out of 10 CFOs said that they have a roadmap for digital transformation.
So, what are CFOs to do? How should they lead digital growth and prepare their company’s business for an autonomous future? And perhaps more importantly, how should they build an effective technology roadmap with the latest innovations in finance? These are some of the questions Gartner sought to answer at its two day Gartner CFO and Finance Executive Conference, which was held at the National Harbor in Maryland on June 6 and June 7, 2022.
The two day conference covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from the path to autonomous finance to how CFOs can best retain talent. Here are five of the top 30 trends that we learned from attending the conference.
Autonomous finance is about giving more independence to humans and using technology to increase their productivity. Most CFOs today believe that autonomous finance will become a reality in just the next five to six years. Yet, few CFOs are today laying the groundwork for it, with only 29% spending their personal time on learning about technologies for autonomous finance.
Businesses that fail to keep pace with industry leaders that are accelerating toward autonomous finance risk falling behind.
Accounting close is a top pain point for finance departments, with 94% of controllers experiencing one or more characteristics of a high effort accounting close. One area that is necessary but often time-intrinsic is regulatory compliance.
The good news is that materiality thresholds can help eliminate work and optimize the review process. The bad news is that a small share of firms are using them properly today.
CFOs understand that building a resilient business requires not just planning for the best possible outcome, but also preparing for the worst. That’s an area where use of automation and AI can greatly help.
Unfortunately, many CFOs put more trust in humans than technology when it comes to forecasting and making decisions even though the evidence shows that technology makes better and accurate decisions.
Case in point: When it comes to producing traditional financial statements, CFOs find a maximum variance of 10% acceptable. Meanwhile, their maximum acceptable variance for a machine generated forecast is only 5%.
CFOs and CIOs have widely different perceptions when it comes to evaluating performance of digital initiatives. This gap often results from a lack of collaboration between the two.
Gartner’s research shows that a good partnership between CFOs and CIOs results in an 18% higher chance of meeting intended outcomes.
Building a minimally viable advanced analytics COE is a low risk, investment strategy that can help CFOs explore opportunities and build foundational capabilities. It is safe, affordable, gives exposure and yields quick wins.
While there are great many benefits to setting up a CoE, it is easy to fall into traps, ranging from buying in expensive vendor solutions to hiring top talent early on.
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