A significant 78% of chief financial officers (CFOs) plan to maintain or increase enterprise-wide digital investments in the next two years, according to a Gartner survey of 199 CFOs and senior finance leaders.

The findings come even as CFOs indicate they are planning cost reductions in other areas of the business if inflation persists this year.

“Companies that drive the right digital investments have 2,7-times higher customer retention, 1,6-times higher customer satisfaction rates, and 1,9-times higher average order value,” says Alexander Bant, chief of research in the Gartner Finance practice. “Leading digital companies are also 3-times more likely to achieve above-industry revenue and margin growth.

“We have also found that 67% of consumers will pay more for a great digital experience.”

Gartner asked CFOs about their intentions for technology spend through 2023, both within their function and across the enterprise. At the enterprise level, 46% of respondents said they are scaling up their digital plans, while 32% said that no changes were planned.

The survey data indicates that CFOs plan to accelerate the momentum in digital transformation investments that were launched in earnest at the start of the pandemic, in line with Gartner’s IT Spending Forecast of an overall increase in worldwide IT spending in 2022.

According to Bant, inflation is a new catalyst driving CFOs to ramp up digital investments with the aim of lowering the cost of doing business and identifying new sources of profitability.

“CFOs know to never waste a crisis or downturn. It’s a time to reinvent, make better investments, and reduce inefficiencies,” says Bant. “Winners on the other side of this cycle will have continued to accelerate the right digital initiatives across their organization even as there are mounting pressures on profitability.”

Within their own departments, CFOs plan to spend even more aggressively on technology, with 52% of CFOs scaling up digital investments, while 38% said they intend to protect their current investment levels.

CFOs’ increasing focus on automation as an inflation mitigation strategy aligns with findings from Gartner’s Finance Technology Innovations Survey, which polled finance leaders on their investment plans for specific finance technologies over the next two years.

The data indicated a planned increase in investment in robotic process automation (RPA), reporting automation and process mining, technologies critical to streamlining routine processes and freeing up staff to focus on higher value activities and increased productivity.