Data analytics, RPA top list of 2021 digital priorities, survey finds

New Gartner CFO survey: Data analytics and RPA are top digital priorities for 2021

The implementation of advanced data analytics and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies to accelerating digital skills among their teams lead a challenging list of digital priorities for next year, according to the survey, conducted in October.

Among finance chiefs’ digital priorities, the top three areas for greater time investment were all also accompanied by significant levels of doubt, with half or more anticipating difficulties and setbacks.

While 82% of respondents named advanced data analytics technologies and tools a top priority, 78% expected it to be difficult to achieve their goals in this area next year.

“CFOs are realizing they need to make tech investments rapidly, which is scary,” Bant said. “CFOs have to reduce the cost of their function in light of COVID-19, and tech is the key way to do that across standard and routine activities.”

Simultaneously, Bant said, the business is demanding faster agile planning and insights to help the business find and respond to challenges and growth opportunities, which puts additional on finance to provide advanced analytics.

“We don’t think it’s a funding challenge; boards and CEOs are willing to spend on digital transformation next year, at a company level, and within the back office,” Bant added. “I’m not as worried about funding as I am about improper leverage.”

“The message we’ve been touting is that 2021 is the year of make or break for CFOs to leapfrog forward on finance tech,” he said. “The business will not slow, the need for faster, more dynamic insights data and analytics will only accelerate as growth returns.”

“CFOs face dual demands in funding the broader digital enterprise, while also ensuring their own function is equipped with the tools, technologies and talent for successful transformation,” Bant said. “Fortunately, many digital priorities, such as RPA, should also be supportive of CFOs’ cost optimization goals, at least long-term.”

“Most CFOs have by now conducted small-scale experiments in either RPA, artificial intelligence (AI) or advanced analytics technologies, and they have seen the potential for significant ROI,” Bant said. “Now the key will be achieving scale with these technologies while ensuring that CFOs have the talent in place to run an always-on, fully digital business.”

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