More than 380 finance executives polled said that “supporting decision-making” is their top goal for 2017, according to a recent article by CFO magazine. Significantly, this is a pivot away from the CFO’s more traditional finance and accounting roles.
This is not surprising: With the challenges faced by companies today, C-level management are looking to the data they’ve been working hard to gather to guide them in their key decisions.
Over 90% of respondents in the same survey said they need to do more with the financial and operations data they have to help top management make critical decisions.
“CFOs want to make a bigger impact on operations across the board,” said Abe Cohen, vice president of marketing at Kaufman Hall, the consulting firm that conducted the survey. “The data is supporting the notion that CFOs are transforming into business advisors.”
In another survey, Ernst & Young found that 58% of CFOs reported they needed to build their understanding of digital, smart technologies and sophisticated data analytics, in a survey of more than 750 finance leaders in 31 countries.
The Ernst & Young study also revealed that 69% of survey respondents saw the finance leader role fundamentally changing as traditional finance tasks are automated or managed in shared services centers.
What does this mean for CFOs going forward?
The Ernst & Young survey summary indicated that CFOs must make bold moves to build a finance function that has the right people, with the right skills, to complement and get the most out of new technologies.
We agree, but note that first, organizations must ensure they have the right technologies in place. And for many small- to medium-sized businesses, that hasn’t happened yet. We talk to too many SMEs that are still using QuickBooks, or worse, Excel spreadsheets.
Those technologies have their place, but once a business starts to scale, it’s important to upgrade to the technologies that will take you where you want to go. And if you want to support decision-making effectively, you need current technology.
What do you see as CFOs’ top concerns for 2017? What do you need as a CFO to be more successful? Feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments box below.
If you’d like more information about when to move your company from QuickBooks or spreadsheets to next level systems, see our Resources page for multiple guides and recorded webinars that will help you decide.