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CFOs drive the digital agenda - Accenture Research finds

Tuesday 25th September, 2018

According to new research from Accenture Chief Financial Officers (CFO) are playing a critical role in driving digital disruption across the organisation. Today’s CFOs oversee more than just the finance function and are now integral players in directing enterprise-wide digital investments and managing their economic outcomes and impacts.

The research report based on online surveys with 700 finance leaders from around the globe finds more than eight in 10 CFOs (81 percent) see identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business as one of their main responsibilities. Three quarters (77 percent) believe it is within their purview to drive business-wide operational transformation.

Steve Culp, senior managing director at Accenture and global head of the company’s Finance & Risk practice, said, “CFOs are fast becoming the digital stewards of their organisations, leveraging predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to better interpret data for key business decisions that drive value, improve efficiency and enable strategy beyond the borders of the finance function.”

CFOs are emerging as drivers of the digital agenda, with 77 percent heading up efforts to improve performance through adoption of digital technology, and 77 percent also exploring how disruptive technologies could benefit the entire organisation and the business eco-system.

The standard CFO to-do list is shifting towards strategic planning, advisory and analytics roles as CFOs continue to automate routine accounting, control and compliance tasks. Automation of these finance duties is enabling the finance function to focus on newer and more challenging tasks and bring the C-suite together to act on insights gleaned from data analysis. Today, 34 percent of finance tasks are carried out by technology; by 2021, almost half (45 percent) of these duties will be taken over by automation.

The biggest challenge for CFOs will be recruiting or training the talent to understand how to collect data and gain insight from data. Eight in ten CFOs agree that data storytelling is an essential skill for today’s finance professional. They must be more open-minded and collaborative to work effectively with and serve as strategic advisors to leaders in other business functions.