Organizations of all sizes are realizing the benefits of a digital transformation, and they’re turning to CFOs to adopt and develop critical technology-related skills. Once considered a numbers-only role, CFOs are now balancing traditional fiscal responsibilities with the increasing demand for data-driven analysis. As technology continues to steer change in the business environment, CFOs are playing an instrumental role in the success of a company’s digital initiatives.
A broader range of expertise
According to the Grant Thornton 2019 CFO Survey, 95% of finance executives report that the CFO of the future must possess increased levels of technology expertise, including data analytics. In fact, 55% identified data analytics as the number one skill they want to develop within the finance function, followed by:
- Business strategy (40%)
- Operations management (36%)
- Technology acquisition (34%)
- Innovation/entrepreneurship (32%)
In this digital era, CEOs look to their CFOs to lead the way. Finance teams are the go-to for delivering analytics and insights that support strategy and decision-making to help organizations identify new market opportunities, uncover trends, develop smarter forecasts for business planning and more. In the long run, organizations that embrace the digital will have the insights to bring innovative ideas to market before the competition. And the more time devoted to harnessing data and interpreting analytics, the greater the asset CFOs can be to their organizations.
According to the study, finance teams are bumping up their use of emerging technology functions in the following areas:
- Accountants payable/receivable (46%)
- Financial reporting and control (44%)
- Financial planning and analysis (43%)
- Budgeting and forecasting (42%)
- Corporate development/strategic planning (41%)
Going forward, executives plan to expand their strategic use of technology, especially in terms of financial planning and analysis (30%) and financial reporting and control (28%).
Future-proofing your CFO career
For finance professionals who want to achieve long-term success, Grant Thornton recommends adopting the following guidelines:
- Identify processes that would benefit from automation and digitization. Partner with C-suite peers to determine which opportunities could offer the most value.
- Shift your mindset to machine-first. Automate manual or low-level work, so employees can take on more strategic roles. Make sure you provide them the training to do so.
- Implement better communication. How does finance interact with other business functions? Seek out new processes to ensure open lines of communication and mutual respect for each department’s needs.
- Align investments. Determine how to measure the effectiveness of your digital transformation initiatives. How do technology investments link to your business investments and your ROI?
- Create a culture of innovation. Give employees the tools to create and thrive in a digitally-aligned workforce.
CFOs: Rising to the occasion
Organizations aren’t just looking at data as a strategic asset, they’re executing strategies that leverage data to improve their business outcomes. And CFOs are at the forefront, driving initiatives to improve the bottom line.