Cash flow management is the top driver of finance leaders' investment in accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) automation, a study released Monday by cloud-based SaaS provider Bill.com, in collaboration with CFO.com, found.
More than 91% of respondents said they're investing in financial technology to help their teams work remotely, and over 88% are investing in solutions to improve cash flow despite the belt tightening their companies have had to instate as a means of remaining afloat amid the pandemic.
The study, titled "CFOs' Appetite for Finance Technology Undiminished," was conducted in May and June, and includes responses from 325 U.S.-based CFOs and finance leaders across 18 industries.
Even amid shrinking budgets, the pandemic is not slowing CFOs' interest in adopting new technology for finance functions. Often, the study finds, it is accelerating. Additionally, CFOs are in it for the long haul, turning to new finance technology not only to solve current problems, but to make their finance teams more agile for future challenges.
Half of CFO respondents count themselves as either "adopters" or "enthusiasts" of new finance technologies. Further, their enthusiasm towards new fintech adoption directly correlates with their level of optimism for their company's growth.
While most executives are satisfied with their finance teams' current remote work performance, many nonetheless face accuracy and timeliness problems, which has spurred their interest in workflow automation for accounts payable and accounts receivable.
Most CFOs strongly believe investing in fintech will improve their finance functions. Nearly three in four (74%) strongly agree financial software investments will make their finance teams more agile and better remote workers. Most also agree such investments will improve risk management, forecast accuracy and cash flow.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning software is most commonly missing from current finance software portfolios, while respondents cite cash flow management as the primary area of concern.
"Cash flow management is now more important than ever as [businesses feel] the impacts of the pandemic and work from home requirements," Bill.com product marketing director Mark Gervase said.
The survey found a direct correlation between how executives characterize their tech adoption approach and their 12-month company outlook. Sixty-five percent of respondents who were enthusiastic towards adopting new technologies expect their company to grow over the next 12 months, while only 11% of respondents less enthusiastic about technology expect the same.
Only 5% of the technology enthusiasts say their companies will decline over 12 months; inverse-proportionally, as technology enthusiasm dwindles, pessimism spikes, with 22% of the technology skeptics predicting declines.
Although respondents highlighted AR and AP among the activities they expect to benefit the most from automation, respondents also acknowledge artificial intelligence and machine learning as significant capabilities their companies most lack to replace manual tasks.
"The findings indicate a strong confidence [in] AI and machine learning investments, and even more support in technologies related to AP, AR and electronic payments technology." CFO research director Justin Gandhi said.
"[This] suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has only bolstered and accelerated pre-pandemic trends," he said.