Finance is thriving, and the next wave of digital technologies will only lead to greater success. This is the primary theme to emerge from a CFO Research study of European CFOs and their finance teams. The study, based on 598 respondents in Europe, identifies four reasons why the future of finance looks so bright. You can hear directly from SAP’s vice president of Global Audience Marketing in Europe, Henner Schliebs, in a podcast on the survey results for Europe.
The finance function is evolving—boosting engagement
Today’s finance professionals are offering deeper insights and strategic guidance to other functions, which makes them feel more engaged with their colleagues. When the finance function is seen as more valuable, the repercussions are exciting:
- 78% find their work in finance interesting, meaningful, and valuable.
- 80% believe their work will become more interesting, meaningful, and valuable over the next five years.
There is a strong belief that the best is yet to come. An overwhelming 95% are keen to stay at their companies to see what the future will bring.
The finance mandate is expanding—and finance professionals love their new sphere of influence
Many CFOs wish to have their hands in other areas – notably, IT, legal, HR, and procurement. Given their duty to track financial metrics, it makes sense that finance assumes responsibility for activities that feed directly into corporate performance management.
When asked to predict the business function that is the most likely to fall within the finance purview over the next five years, 29% of respondents said IT. The health of the CFO/CIO relationship will continue to become even more critical if finance professionals deploy more sophisticated data analytics.
Businesses are increasingly complex—and technology is needed to make the numbers actionable
CFOs in Europe are well aware of the complexity of the decision-making environment. A full 81% of European finance professionals agree that the success of an organization increasingly will depend on its ability to adapt to rapid change.
CFOs recognize that data has transformative potential for their organizations. Eight out of 10 respondents define success as predictive finance—being able to unpack the numbers in real time so that businesses can swiftly and decisively adjust their actions in response to the rapidly changing business environment.
The finance function is set to thrive — and a high level of automation is key
Making bold digitalization and automation decisions is mission-critical if finance professionals are to streamline processes for collaboration and reporting, and transition to their new role of strategic partner. In this regard:
- 75% of respondents consider that a company’s success is dependent on having instantaneous access to a unified and comprehensive set of data.
- 73% of respondents insist that their company’s success relies on infrastructure that enables them to analyze Big Data.
The message is clear: CFOs must embrace tech or get left out. 70% of respondents believe that companies must bring enterprise IT in line with consumer technologies in order improve speed, flexibility, and ease of use. Any disconnect will impede their ability to meet future challenges and retain top talent.
The future of finance
European finance professionals are taking notice of the changing role of finance. The key to developing value-added capabilities is the ability to automate many, if not all, of the routine compliance, reporting and transaction-processing activities that absorb much of a finance professional’s time. If they are successful in that, finance professionals can spend more time working on sophisticated reporting and predictive analytics — solidifying their position as a trusted, strategic advisor.
Ready to weigh in on the debate? Read the CFO Research report “Thriving in the Digital Economy: Four Reasons Why Finance Is Excited About the Future” and learn how best-in-class accounting solutions can help your finance function prepare for the future tech shift.