28 Jun 2021
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Over 80% of CFOs plan on expanding investment into digitalisation

82% of CFOs plan to increase investment in their company’s digital capabilities this year, according to new data from Gartner.

70% of the same pool of respondents — 115 CFOs from around the world quizzed between July and December 2020 — intend to increase expenditure on information technology in financial year 2021.

“As COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed, most finance organisations tried to digitise as many processes as possible to move to a virtual work environment,” says Gartner Finance senior director analyst Alejandra Lozada. 

“CFOs also view technology as a competitive differentiator that can widen the performance gap between their businesses and those of their peers.”

Lozada says that while CFOs plan to boost investments into digitalisation, there are issues regarding clarity of purpose — and what exactly they mean to do with their investments.

“While CFOs are planning to increase their digital investments, our survey also showed that they are less clear on what digital business means and the technologies with the most significant impact on their businesses. This could be a challenge,” says Lozada. 

“CFOs need a clear digitalisation language and vision to focus their teams on the key investments and initiatives required to accelerate transformation. 

“This clarity is needed to make coherent technology investments that enhance one another.”

To ensure clarity and concise planning for upcoming digital investments, Gartner articulated three pointers:

  • Maintain a balanced technology investment portfolio: This portfolio must balance technology opportunities that can yield long term business value with low-effort, low-complexity initiatives — like piecemeal automations — with shorter payback periods.
     
  • Select technologies based on finance’s needs: Instead of picking technologies based on market trends, Gartner suggests that CFOs should define their business and finance objectives and then look for technologies that will assist in achieving those objectives.
     
  • Involve cross-functional stakeholders early: Limited visibility into the wider organisation’s IT efforts will lead to overlaps and conflicts with other business units. According to the data analyst firm, CFOs can avoid this by consulting with other business units and central IT at each step of the technology roadmap.

Gartner’s report follows similar findings from WNS, which last week released a report finding that 49% of CFOs believe digital adoption is an immediate priority in order to increase productivity, customer experience and control.

The report also found that 50% of respondents are considering proactive steps to build an agile, resilient and digitally-enabled future-ready finance.

“I see the current scenario as a great opportunity for CFOs to drive relevant cultural and technological changes integral to future-readiness,” says WNS Group CEO Keshav R. Murugesh.

“Regardless of the size of the challenge, the time is ripe for fragmented operations and legacy systems to make way for unified operations underpinned by digital business models and hyper-automation.

“There is no doubt that CFOs, more than ever, have the tools they need to lead businesses through this climate and beyond.

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