Home Industry The Evolving Role of the CFO in Driving Digital Modernization

The Evolving Role of the CFO in Driving Digital Modernization

by CIOAXIS Bureau

Epicor recently shared findings from “The Evolving Role of the CFO in 2023,” an IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Epicor. The study revealed more than 80 percent of manufacturing and distribution organizations surveyed agreed that today’s economic uncertainty has “significantly” elevated the importance of the CFO in driving strategy and technology optimization initiatives. Financial performance and growth were cited as the top IT investment drivers in the current economic climate.

“The back office is not the back office anymore, with CFOs and their finance organizations increasingly playing a more vital role in driving IT investment to compete and grow,” said Marco de Vries, Epicor Vice President of Product Marketing. “It’s all about transforming the speed and efficiency in decision-making across the business, which is critically important for supply chain industries that have faced continual disruption and economic pressures to adapt and thrive.”

With a heightened focus on data management to drive enterprise agility and real-time decision-making, CFOs are looking for ways to modernize the tools the finance and accounting departments rely on to improve efficiency and business performance.

Foundationally, that includes increased investments in cloud technologies, with half of organizations surveyed planning to move to the cloud in the next one to two years to strengthen data accessibility, reduce organizational silos, and improve security. Top use cases identified for optimization include financial planning and analysis (FP&A), cash management, and accounts payable automation. Manufacturers indicated they are more focused on period-end closing; distributors more on inventory management.

In addition, 42 percent of respondents agreed that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities will have the greatest impact in their organizations over the next five years by finding patterns, turning data into actionable insights, and enabling automation across business and production processes.

Respondents also indicated that growing talent gaps are impacting all parts of their business, with one third saying the need to address labor issues is their top overall business objective. Lack of knowledge is the biggest reason for finance and accounting talent issues – finding ways to capture, manage, and share expertise across the organization will be critical.

Survey Methodology
To highlight the strategic priorities of successful financial departments, Epicor commissioned IDC in early 2023 to conduct a study of more than 200 manufacturing and distribution organizations with revenues between $100 million and $1 billion. Respondents were director-level and above, in finance or accounting roles, as well as the primary decision makers for digital transformation (DX) or part of a DX team making decisions associated with enterprise IT systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP). Surveyed companies were in North America, UK, and Australia.

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