Mastery of technology will determine the success of a CFO

The one thing that will significantly influence the fate of aspiring CFOs is their technical skills. According to a Gartner survey of 173 CFOs in November 2020, digital investments were top CFO priorities. Tech literacy is key to making informed decisions about digital investments.

“CFOs are leaning into the ‘digital mandate’ and are investing heavily in next-generation technologies,” said Alexander Bant, head of research at the Gartner Finance practice. “However, they need to remember that digital transformation is a two-part equation involving not only the technologies themselves, but ensuring that we have the people who know how, when, where and why to leverage these new technologies.”

According to a study conducted for Billtrust by Paradoxes Inc., CFOs and aspiring CFO candidates must have technological knowledge in order to advance their business. Being comfortable with data, technology, and cross-disciplinary collaboration was critical to the success of CFO candidates. Another Sage survey of 1,900 CFOs across industries and countries found that CFOs are seen as key drivers of change and profit. Therefore, the CFOS must be able to prioritize technology with financial experience.

Understanding money and technology is imperative to a successful CFO.

Sage’s report details the need for CFOs to be a jack-of-all-trades and not just a master of finance. CFOs with technology savvy are also able to better read the market and predict upcoming changes that will impact the organization. Nearly two in five expect AI and machine learning to have a major impact on their organization’s ability to create or maintain competitive advantage in the future. Nearly 60% said they felt informed about all aspects of business operations.

The digital wave

The ability to understand how digital technologies interact with finance will help businesses better understand consumer needs and growth prospects. Additionally, Alexander Bant, Gartner’s head of research for CFOs, said 69% of boards highlighted digital acceleration as their number one goal. Understanding how to leverage technology gives CFOs the edge needed to manage things in times of change. Gartner found that CFOs plan to spend even more aggressively on technology, with 52% increasing their digital investments, while 38% said they plan to protect their current investment levels.

The pandemic has brought to light the shortcomings of companies that had not adopted technological best practices. CFOs share that as the world embraces a new normal, nothing can be streamlined without relying heavily on technology. Automating certain processes also helps organizations minimize risk and human error. The CFO’s relationship with technology will translate business problems into manageable solutions.

Nearly 89% of candidates who participated in the Paradoxes Inc. study agreed that finance leaders should have a deep understanding of how data and technology interact in their businesses.

Randeep Rathindran, vice president of research in Gartner’s finance practice, believes a CFO’s relationship will drive future investment and play a key role in business success. However, he mentions that fewer than one in three CFOs actively spend time learning about new finance technologies and their applications.

A KPMG-Forbes survey of 549 senior executives from six continents showed that nearly one in three CEOs worry that their CFO is unprepared for the challenges ahead. Today, CFOs are true business partners of CEOs, sharing relevant financial data to chart a roadmap for the future. Aspiring CFO candidates should be aware that they bear the fiscal responsibility of an entire organization and should use it to influence operational decision-making and strategy.

As organizations become more dependent on technology, digital investments driven by technology literacy and financial fluency will decide the fate of a business and its employees.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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