Finance Is Adopting Emerging Digital Technologies to Help Transform their Role
NEW YORK and REDWOOD SHORES, CA; March 19, 2014 – Nearly 68 percent of finance and business executives believe the CFO is a strong evangelist for the transformational potential of technology, but only a fifth (20 percent), think finance organizations have adopted leading-edge technology, according to a new study by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and Oracle.
The findings of the survey, published in a new report, “Empowering Modern Finance: The CFO as Technology Evangelist,” reveal progress in implementing new technologies against a patchy perception of the finance function by decision makers. For example, 23 percent of the 300 senior non-finance executives surveyed said the ability of finance to provide a current view of performance against budget “falls below expectations,” and even 42 percent of the 975 finance executives surveyed see room for improvement. Still, finance professionals are increasingly seen as proactive collaborators, with 80 percent overall judging finance to be “excellent” or “above average” in its ability to collaborate with the rest of the business.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of finance executives believe cloud, mobile technology and social media will change how finance is structured and run, according to the findings in the new report. Furthermore, the study shows that finance functions are investing in new technologies.
Twenty-eight percent of finance respondents already use cloud technology to support budgeting, planning and forecasting, according to the survey, and another 34 percent plan to move those functions into the cloud within the next year. Additionally, more than two-thirds have either already adopted a cloud-based system in some part of their organizations for core financials (24 percent) or they are charting a road map to do so (45 percent).
“CFOs are under strong pressure to raise their game amid perceptions that they are not sufficiently committed to new technologies,” said Scott Brennan, managing director, Accenture Strategy in Finance & Enterprise Performance. “This study shows that finance leaders are in fact investing in cloud and other technologies and creating modern finance organizations capable of supporting profitable growth.”
Although about 30 percent of finance and line of business executives indicate that their processes are still paper-based, there is a trend toward automating and digitizing processes. Nearly 50 percent now use mobile apps and 53 percent leverage web-based systems to manage business processes.
The report reveals finance functions are also making progress in addressing the skills gaps they encounter as new responsibilities require more tech-savvy staff. To fulfill the need for new skills and analytics capabilities to execute the modern finance mandate, nearly half of respondents have seen an increase in the number of finance analysts hired since 2011. Nevertheless, when asked to identify the barriers to adopting new technologies, 38 percent of respondents cited the lack of internal skills. Only 5 percent cited the lack of senior management support as a barrier.
“It is encouraging to see the progress and foresight that finance leaders have demonstrated as they break down traditional operational barriers and harness new technologies,” said Brennan. “These modern finance organizations will want to train and hire professionals with robust analytical skills and business knowledge to help today’s CFO realize the full potential that finance has to offer.”
“Empowered by data insights and collaborative new ways of working, modern finance organizations are no longer content to focus on cost containment and instead are looking at new ways to deliver insight and value to the rest of the business,” said Karen dela Torre, vice president, ERP Application Business Group, Oracle. “While the study highlights how finance executives are increasingly leveraging operational knowledge and analytical expertise to provide data-driven insight and forward-looking guidance on where to drive innovation and growth, an important gap still remains between aspirations and reality.”
About the Methodology
Longitude Research fielded the survey for Accenture and Oracle. Of the 1,275 respondents, 52 percent were from Europe, 21 percent from North American, 15 percent from Asia Pacific, 7 percent from the Middle East and Africa, and 5 percent from Latin America. Of those, 975 were finance professionals and line of business non-finance executives accounted for the balance. Respondents represented companies with revenues in excess of US$250M, and 51 percent of the respondents had annual revenues in excess of US$1bn.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 281,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Through its Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship focus, Accenture is committed to equipping 500,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. The company generated net revenues of US$28.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2013.
Oracle engineers hardware and software to work together in the cloud and in your data center. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.
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