New survey finds CFOs are increasingly more involved in technology decision-making and are driving business digital transformation efforts
The survey by accounting and auditing firm Grant Thornton finds that CFOs see technology as a means of increasing productivity, improving efficiency by better leveraging data, and driving digital transformation and automation efforts in their organizations.
The Lowdown: Conducted in conjunction with CFO Research, the survey finds that financial chiefs of many organizations see their roles shifting from managing costs and expenses to driving change through digital transformation and technology investments. CFOs are leveraging technology more in their analytics operations and looking to increase adoption in many emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain, and machine learning.
The Details: Nine out of 10 CFOs believe they are well-positioned to collaborate with IT departments in identifying technology needs and planning digital transformation investments. An equal number believe their job responsibility is ensuring that their organizations maximize the benefit of technology investments and making sure teams are leveraging technology to the maximum benefit.
Correspondingly, CFOs see themselves as a critical part of the IT decision-making process. Most businesses see their CFOs as critical members of cross-functional teams that identify technology needs and evaluate solutions. Ninety-four percent of surveyed organizations say CFOs are strong contributors to fostering a culture of innovation.
The Buzz: “Financial leaders must embrace and adapt to new technologies to ensure their organizations operate efficiently,” said Srikant Sastry, national managing principal of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton. “The speed with which CFOs are investing in IT shows a clear vision of the digital transformation they want to see at their companies. But advanced technologies like AI, RPA, drones, and robotics require CFOs to focus on specific use cases, workforce preparation, and measurements for these technologies to facilitate and maximize a timely return on investment.”
“Over the next two years, talent and skills will be one of the top three challenges the IT function faces as it seeks enterprise growth, along with system complexity and business integration,” says Chris Stephenson, business consulting principal at Grant Thornton. “As the finance function of the future takes shape, it will demand new skill sets. Leaders will need to move full-speed ahead to invest in the right technology and people to transform their businesses and, ultimately, guide strategic decision-making across their organizations.”
Channelnomics Point of View: Vendors frequently tell partners that they must sell up to the C-suite to drive top-down decision-making. The standard guidance is to aim sales and marketing efforts at the CEO’s office or at line-of-business managers. In recent years, CMOs have emerged as significant influencers of technology purchasing. The Grant Thornton survey shows that CFOs aren’t just bean-counter that try to tamp down spending and negotiate better prices; they’re significant contributors to digital transformation.