Leading digital transformation efforts in the finance function is the top area CFOs are focused on in 2024, according to a recent survey by Gartner.
The survey of 185 CFOs, conducted through September and October 2023, revealed that improving finance metrics, insights and storytelling, leading change management efforts, and optimising costs were also priorities that over 70% of CFOs considered to be critical to their success.
“The focus on transformation efforts aligns with the increased interest in GenAI and other disruptive technologies. This also speaks to the role the CFO plays in evaluating and aligning investment in these transformative technologies – both in finance and across the enterprise,” says Marko Horvat, vice-president, research in the Gartner Finance practice.
“Transformation and functional improvement are the predominant themes through the top 10 priorities for 2024,” says Horvat. “Leading change, improving the strategy design and function of the finance team, and leading transformation are three of the top five critical priorities.
At the same time, however, CFOs foresee considerable difficulties ahead when modernizing finance department structure because efficiently deploying new finance technology into the function can be time-consuming and disruptive to day-to-day activities.
“Building technology delivery capacity in finance often requires finance executives to partner with external consultants and internal IT teams to advance projects while continuing to run the function in its current state,” says Horvat. “As the number and scope of these projects grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to find capacity within the finance function to adequately address the needs of these projects.”
Gartner experts advised that successful transformation efforts in finance tend to require that the CFO actively leads technology delivery efforts, rather than simply engaging and collaborating with IT departments.
“What we hear broadly from CFOs is that digital initiatives aren’t meeting their expectations,” says Horvat. “Unless CFOs reassess how they and their teams lead digital initiatives, those initiatives will continue to disappoint.”
Gartner research shows that the digital initiatives that have a better-than-even chance of realising the intended benefits are those where finance leadership are focused on digital delivery: the actual creation or implementation and management of a digital system.