CFOs Must Embrace New Tech, Not Ignore It
Education and Careers CFOs recognize that technology will soon disrupt finance, but most CFOs don’t have a plan for when this comes to pass.
A recent survey by the Association for Financial Professionals revealed that only 11 percent of CFOs are “very prepared” or “fully prepared” to deal with the impact of new technologies within the corporate finance sphere. A whopping 53 percent said their organizations were “somewhat prepared,” and another 36 percent admitted their organizations were only “minimally or not prepared.”
CFOs are missing out
I see this lack of planning across every form of cutting-edge financial technology. Only 6 percent of respondents’ organizations had already implemented some form of robotic process automation, a mere 3 percent the internet of things, 2 percent for artificial intelligence and a miniscule 1 percent for blockchain.
Yet, technology will surely disrupt corporate finance. Some predict the government will start using blockchain to collect taxes by 2021. Others believe AI will account for 30 percent of all corporate audits by 2023. Meanwhile, a McKinsey study touts the potential to automate 78 percent of the tasks that nearly a fifth of U.S. workers perform daily.
If disruptive technology is coming — or, in fact, is already here — and CFOs know they must rise to the challenge, then what’s stopping them?
“CFOs must act now to manage their future rather than have disruptive technology do it for them.”
I’ll chalk this adoption gap up to human nature. CFOs, like everybody else, are busy people and they sometimes get caught up in daily pressures. They are spread very thin as their roles expand, so they don’t have time to ponder the future, let alone implement new technology.
CFOs must take action
Here’s the thing. By taking time now to invest in education and training for their finance teams, CFOs will be better positioned to leverage new technology. I can’t overstate this last point: leveraging new technology will be a competitive advantage for your organization.
CFOs must act now to manage their future rather than have disruptive technology do it for them. They can start by becoming data-literate as a preface to understanding the technology. This means diving deeper than traditional financial metrics to better understand the trends and forces truly driving the numbers.
Asking the right questions
Armed with a better understanding of the data, CFOs can then educate themselves about the technology market and ask the following:
Which technologies can deliver the greatest value to finance function?
What are the main challenges to adoption?
What organizational or cultural barriers do you face, both within your organization and among your customers?
Does your team have the skills to leverage the advantage of the technology?
These are some key questions to answer. By surveying the technology landscape and then taking the time to ask basic questions about functionality and fit, CFOs can begin to come to grips with their future.