CFOs prepare for seismic impact of digital transformation

48% of finance executives believe digital technologies will fundamentally change everything finance does.

That’s according to a new study from Accenture Strategy, which found many CFOs see digital technology as having a potentially seismic impact on their role.

As digital swiftly inches its way to the top of the CFO agenda, CFOs are incorporating digital into their organisations at large, driving transformational change. The Accenture Strategy study, “CFOs Are the New Digital Apostles,” shows that one-in-four companies are realising greater than expected returns from digital, and a whopping 82 percent are seeing measurable business Return On Investment (ROI) from digital finance investments.

“Today’s CFOs are embracing digital more than ever. It is much more than social, mobile and analytics, they are increasingly relying on digital for security threat intelligence, blockchain and artificial intelligence too,” said David Axson, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value. “Those that are moving beyond single-point applications to enterprise-wide digital deployment are seeing greater than expected ROIs across the board.”

Digital is currently delivering improvement in professional staff productivity, and could soon make monthly and quarterly management reports a quaint relic of a bygone time. About one-third of all digital technologies have delivered transformational benefits to firms with cycle time reduction (37 percent) and finance staff productivity improvement (36 percent) being the top benefits.

The study did highlight a few barriers – the greatest being the level of investment required for digital technologies (18 percent) and hiring talent that has the required skills to implement and operate the new technologies (16 percent).


Preparing for a digital world

Switching to digital can seem daunting, especially for CFOs who have shied away from IT-related matters. Over one-third of respondents believe their organisation is leading competitors in digital technology adoption – however not all companies are there yet. Accenture make a few key suggestions to help the transition:

  1. Move beyond Digital Lite. Digital is more than social, mobile, analytics and cloud. If your organisation is not addressing blockchain, artificial intelligence, security intelligence and robotic process automation – at a minimum – you are already behind.
  2. Remove your cost and productivity lens. Think total investment value. Align digital finance strategy with business strategy.
  3. Make decisions differently. Digital is not an overlay. It changes the way your business operates – and the way your teams must make decisions. Put the right talent in place and allow them to utilise digital as a bedrock of the business to deliver maximum results.