Only 7% of CFOs have made significant gains on driving organizational resilience in recent years, even though three-fourths (73%) acknowledge they’re currently in a prime position to do so, Accenture’s latest survey, aimed at quantifying the link between business operations maturity and performance, found.
Of the four tiers of operational maturity (stable, efficient, predictive and future-ready), only 5% of CFOs have achieved "future-ready" operations, its survey found, though 35% expect to be there in the next three years. Each level, the survey said, is “grounded in and enabled by progressively more sophisticated technology, talent, processes and data insights.”
Meeting the future-ready threshold makes a company twice as efficient and three times more profitable than its peers, Accenture said.
CFOs named strategy (25%) and structure (21%) as the main roadblocks in their path towards boosting business operations to the future-ready level.
The challenges require CFOs to rethink their finance operating model, which Accenture breaks into two pieces: “the core” and “the strategic.” Core operations are principal accounting processes, like payables and receivables, reporting and governance, whereas strategic operations provide the data and insights needed to quantify possible future outcomes.
Applying digital technologies like automation and AI to core functions puts CFOs in a prime position to bring their operations to the future-ready tier while improving their controllership function.
Deploying advanced tech will free finance up to focus on strategic operations. CFOs and their teams can obtain personalized insights and highly accurate predictions for cash positions, revenue and sales. These advancements drive the better business decisions that bring future-ready companies success.
For 27% of finance leaders, the necessary data is trapped across systems or organized manually in spreadsheets, which prevents them from drawing insights and value. Only 23% of CFOs currently use cloud-based applications to provide these insights.
But the problem doesn’t stop at data; just over half (51%) of CFOs said reskilling existing talent and attracting specialized talent hamstrings their ability to bring their operations up to speed.
“Not only will CFOs be charged with creating operational resilience, but with creating an operating model that draws from real-time data and processes,” Manish Sharma, group CEO of Accenture Operations, said, noting the shift finance professionals have undergone from bean counters to strategic leaders.
Increased digitization remains the goal for CFOs across the board; 73% of CFOs say they’re retooling their division with the latest tech. This is consistent with established trends; Accenture finds 60% of traditional finance tasks are automated today, on average, and predicts it will grow to 80% in five years.