Chief Financial Officers will increasingly be focused on automation technologies in the years ahead as they aim to continually improve processes across operations, according to a Gartner survey.
Gartner said that CFOs are launching plans to deliver autonomous finance functions in the next three years. The research firm defines autonomous finance as an operating model where processes and functions are automated through software and optimized across front-, middle- and back-office operations.
Autonomous finance will have technology and process at its core enabled by on-demand data, automation and AI-driven insights.
Shannon Cole, senior director analyst in Gartner's finance practice, noted in a statement that CFOs will need to hire talent with "deep process expertise." Gartner's survey of CFOs aligns with a recent study from Deloitte.
Gartner also indicated that automation "will reshape transaction processing functions such as procure to pay (P2P) and order to cash (O2C)." At Celosphere 2022, Celonis customers also highlighted use cases for Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Procurement as well.
With the goal of autonomous finance a priority, it's no surprise that CFOs are increasing spending on corporate IT. A Gartner survey of nearly 300 CFOs found two thirds of CFOs plan to increase corporate IT budgets.
Many CFOs are looking to process improvements to control what they can amid uncertainty. 3M's Monish Patolawala, Chief Financial & Transformation Officer, said on the company's fourth quarter earnings conference call:
"We will remain nimble and take appropriate actions as we respond to changing market dynamics. And we will continue to invest in growth, productivity and sustainability to ensure the long-term success of our enterprise. At the end of the day, we don't control the markets, but what we definitely control is our own actions."
Recent earnings conference calls across industries including consumer product goods, retail, manufacturing and banking have highlighted plans to remain nimble for 2023 amid economic uncertainty. The Conference Board's first quarter survey found that 93% of CEOs still report for a US recession over the next 12 to 18 months, but are still funding strategic transformation efforts.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon summed up what many leaders are saying about continual improvement.
"We're driving a lot of change inside our company. We know where to tap the brakes on cost and inventory, but our focus is more on the gas pedal with respect to our strategic improvements related to assortment growth and our customer member experience. We'll keep shaping the business model by scaling our newer mutually reinforcing businesses in areas like marketplace, fulfillment services and advertising."