As CFO’s move beyond their accounting and reporting functions, they need to evolve in their expanded role of supporting innovative decisions. But many are caught unprepared to take the reins when it comes to deploying the technology and people needed to succeed in today’s business environment.

What are the roadblocks? One key area where senior finance executives are not getting the job done: applying advanced analytics and building finance teams to support innovation. Only slightly more than half of the surveyed executives (55%) say they apply advanced analytics to enterprise innovation decisions.

These are some top-level takeaways from a recent CFO Research study, sponsored by HSBC, which polled 236 CFOs and other senior finance executives on their function in driving innovation.

CFOs Share Strategies for Making the Shift

How can CFOs step up to the plate to shape growth and innovation strategies? One of the most important things leaders can do is to assemble a modern finance team. However, only 57% of respondents have a strategy for defining and creating a high-value finance team that can support innovation initiatives.

Tyler Technologies tackled the challenge by hiring finance team members with strong analytical skills and diverse experiences. “That’s been valuable to us, not only that we’re able to promote people internally and have people grow into bigger jobs, but that with growth, we’re able to bring in people with diverse experiences from outside of Tyler,” said Brian Miller, CFO for the software company.

Getting more confident with leveraging data and analytics is an issue for many survey respondents. At Rollins Inc., a pest control service company, data analytics has changed how finance works with other groups in the company. Rollins set up a finance data analytics group to help support business decision-making about three years ago. “Now we’ve moved to the next level — to what and how we can help make an operation more efficient, and how we can make things better from a customer-experience perspective,” according to according to Eddie Northen, CFO.

CFOs are comfortable with some of the tasks they’ll need to execute, namely: sharing data and analysis, and basing their innovation recommendations on advanced data analysis. But there is clearly room for improvement when it comes to assembling the teams and data analytics prowess to ensure a strong connection between innovation initiatives and their company’s strategic business objectives.

Looking for more research data and success stories to help you guide your company’s innovation initiatives? Download the eBook here.