Finance Excellence 2020 – Digitization in the CFO function

In this age of rapid technological change and Industry 4.0, company growth leads to increasing demands on the CFO function. Which challenges does the CFO face? For 60% of the finance heads in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that were surveyed – more than 120 in total – changes to accounting principles, legal uncertainty and increased compliance risks are a constant consideration. In roughly the same proportion, they mention the increased demands of information and communications technology, and regulatory amendments.

These challenges set the parameters for the measures on the finance division’s agenda for the future. More than 90% of CFOs surveyed want to standardize their system landscape, and to reorganize and automate processes in order to enhance the function’s performance. Almost as many want to optimize their results by reducing costs, and automating financial controlling. This information is taken from the recent CFO study that was conducted by Horváth & Partners. The overriding aim of the CFO study is to provide a current overview of the challenges posed by digitization, of trends in the CFO function, and of the appropriate measures to be taken.

Overview of key results

Four key trends are indicating a need for digital transformation in finance:

  • The push for efficiency in the financial engine room will increase enormously (94% agree with this trend)
  • 90% are certain that roles and responsibilities in the finance function will change radically
  • More than 80% agree that financial controlling is moving away from reactive analysis towards proactive forecasting
  • Around three quarters of study respondents are convinced that in future there will be a greater reliance on data availability and networking throughout the company and the value creation process

Digitization will affect all financial processes and will lead to changes in organizational and process structures as well as in responsibilities:

  • Robotics software takes on rule-based tasks and automates repetitive tasks in the CFO function
  • Advanced analytics offers finance divisions a whole new range of options for financial controlling and decision-making support
  • The trend radar shows that the greatest challenges lie in the digitization of processes, and the methods and expertise required to implement it
  • “Best practice companies” focus on IT, the operationalization of the strategy, and bringing change management in line with this
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