CFOs, controllers and FP&A leaders all expect to focus heavily on digital initiatives in 2021, supporting enterprise priorities and optimizing the finance function.
2021 is the year to pivot from discussions about the future to making real investments.
Four digitalization initiatives appeared among the top five priorities that CFOs expect to take more, or significantly more, time and to be difficult to achieve in 2021.
No. 1: Advanced data analytics technologies and tools in finance
Analytics has become a key driver of how value is created in most businesses, and the finance function is now drowning in data. CFOs will need to lead the finance function in expanding analytical capabilities, roles and processes and help business stakeholders to understand, interpret and use financial data to make sound operational decisions.
No. 2: Robotic process automation (RPA) and other workflow automation technologies
The use of RPA, the de facto automation choice for finance teams, has grown exponentially, delivering speed, efficiency and cost optimization. But RPA doesn’t scale easily. CFOs now need to focus on additional technologies (including chatbots, artificial intelligence and machine learning) that cover increasingly complex, dynamic processes requiring human judgment.
No. 3: Accelerating digital skills
Developing digital skills is a prerequisite for finance leaders as organizations — and the finance function itself — accelerate adoption of digital technologies in the post-pandemic recovery. The first step for finance leaders is to identify relevant digital skills, especially those specific to employees’ daily workflows.
No. 4: Enterprisewide digital investment review and governance
The growing diversity of investment projects — especially given digital acceleration — pushes more investments outside the scope of traditional capital budgeting methods. As a result, CFOs will need to rethink how to measure, fund and manage digital business performance.