With the pandemic-induced economies putting many financial executives in a position of doing whatever is necessary to allow their company to survive, many have begun to expand outside of their traditional financial-related tasks and towards more leadership-centric tasks. Through this transition, many CFOs feel they’re being undervalued from a leadership perspective.
According to new data in Microsoft Dynamic 365’s 2023 future of finance trends report, which surveyed 500 full-time U.S.-based finance leaders, nearly nine in 10 (88%) respondents said they feel the challenge of the finance team being held back from having a greater role in driving innovation for the company.
Driving Innovation While Being a Voice Of Reason
CFOs have widely been considered the company skeptic, which has allowed them to be the voice of reason in the C-suite, especially within organizations that have lots of ideas or plans for rapid growth. Balancing the speed of business, growth, cost reduction, and technology incorporation is an effort that the most proactive financial leaders are making, according to surveyors.
More than three-quarters (79%) of finance leaders believe in order to meet future needs, a 'big priority' for them should be to own business model innovation and empower transformation across the organization.
Without shying away from the duties of keeping both ideas and their realism in check, financial leaders also desire to take on more of a hands-on approach in steps toward innovation. More than three-quarters (79%) of finance leaders believe in order to meet future needs, a “big priority” for them should be to own business model innovation and empower transformation across the organization.
This desire to be active in the innovation process may stem from constant calls to incorporate innovation in different elements of their businesses, including responsibility to shareholders (52%), customer needs (50%), and responsibility to society (48%).
Troubles With Value and Automation
Much like how many CFOs feel left out of the decision-making process, finance teams themselves are having trouble feeling like they are making significant contributions on a larger scale. Eighty percent of finance leaders said that both they and their teams are being “challenged more than ever” to add value beyond their traditional daily duties.
According to the data, the way for CFOs to provide value is by leveraging the best available technologies to automate wherever possible. Findings reveal over eight in 10 (82%) of finance leaders find both strategy and innovation through artificial intelligence technologies are very important to helping evolve their team’s role to support the organization’s strategic goals.
Despite being aware of technology’s ability to create value outside of traditional transactional functions, 88% of finance leaders told surveyors they currently feel the challenge of not having the automation tools they need to automate repetitive tasks like invoicing and payroll.
Without this sound grasp on automation, CFOs may be unable to free up their time for more innovative work. Surveyors call the increased desire for finance-first innovation an “unmistakable sign of the need for a culture shift.”