Hyperautomation and intelligent composable business are the top strategic trends that chief financial officers (CFOs) should immediately address, according to Gartner.

“These trends reflect the need for finance leaders to quickly and efficiently adjust to rapidly changing business conditions,” says Alejandra Lozada, senior director: research in the Gartner Finance practice.

“Hyperautomation stresses the importance of moving away from manual and onerous processes to automated processes which can be more easily adjusted to changing business conditions.

“Similarly, intelligent composable business highlights the need for finance leaders to create flexible systems and capabilities that can be adjusted as needed.”

With so many technologies and trends competing for CFOs’ attention, Gartner experts recommend CFOs focus on two trends for immediate action because a fragmented and ill-considered technology approach will likely curtail the potential benefits of digitalisation.

Trend 1: Hyperautomation

Gartner predicts that by 2024, organisations will reduce operational costs by 30% by combining hyperautomation technologies with redesigned operational processes.

When thinking about automation, many CFOs have fallen into the trap of overusing a single technology tool — robotic process automation (RPA) — but they are discovering that RPA cannot be scaled to automate a large proportion of finance processes.

“CFOs must understand that RPA is just one part of the hyperautomation toolbox which also includes artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), event-driven software architecture, and intelligent business process management suites (iBPMSs), among other tools,” Lozada says.

Gartner recommends that CFOs prioritise finance automation investments by creating an iterative, multiyear roadmap to hyperautomation, including multiple concurrent and aligned initiatives.

They should also develop a business-led approach toward automation adoption by focusing on measurable improvements in business outcomes, rather than automation-focused goals.

Trend 2: Intelligent composable business

Gartner predicts through 2024, 50% of financial application leaders will incorporate a composable financial management system approach to their solution selection.

Gartner defines a composable architecture as one where highly modular applications can be composed and recomposed to deliver capabilities and outcomes that keep up with the rapid pace of business change.

“Financial management system (FMS) solutions that encompass cloud core financial management, financial planning and analysis and financial close processes should become composable,” says Lozada. “This will allow them to be acquired, assembled, composed, configured and personalised primarily by the finance staff who actually use them.”

The payoff of such a financial management architecture is that, as it is highly modular, it can be quickly reconfigured, by the staff who use it, to meet their needs and the needs of the business in a rapidly changing environment.

CFOs can improve the ability to accelerate the implementation, operation and management of composable financial management systems by developing relevant finance competencies, such as data literacy, which facilitates data integration across a broad range of available sources.