CFOs increasingly driving digital transformation in Australian businesses

From

Kerry Agiasotis

Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, has today released new research CFO 3.0 – digital transformation beyond financial management highlighting the impact of digital transformation on Australia’s mid-sized companies.

The whitepaper highlights that while cloud adoption is high in Australia, CFOs are not fully leveraging the capabilities of financial management technology. As CFOs bridge towards a more automated future, the research looks at the performance gap between traditionalists and early adopters, and the opportunity to propel digital transformation into the wider business.

Driving the digitalisation of finance

Of the finance decision makers interviewed, Sage learnt that 93% of finance professionals believe their role has changed in the past five years, with 67% stating that they now perceive themselves as strategic advisors rather than leaders responsible for compliance and accounting. Over half attributed this change to the digitalisation of the industry creating a new era of customer expectations.

However, the research shows that companies who have implemented cloud financial technologies have yet to realise the transformative opportunity that it offers across the business. This is evidenced by the fact that whilst 72% of businesses have invested in cloud-based technologies over the past 4 years, only 35% of CFOs consider themselves as drivers of overall business transformation.  CFOs are not yet making purposeful decision on their IT investment with a view to transform the overall business beyond automating financial management.

The research highlights a number of operational factors are responsible for holding back CFOs from bridging from ‘Financial’ to ‘Strategic’ leader.

  • 64% cite integrating financial and operational information data as a challenge
  • 62% see aggregating data and information across sites / locations as a pain point
  • 57% are thinking of new ways to access real-time financial data and insights
  • 51% worry they do not have the digital tools to do their job
  • 44% think they lack digital skills and the ability to use new technology

The influence of culture

Another challenge CFOs face is considering the connection between technology adoption and culture.

  • 89% of financial decision makers believe that technology needs to be carefully selected to align with the culture of an organisation
  • 64% are concerned that the culture of their organisation isn’t ready for any further technology changes
  • 61% worry that automation will have an impact on job security, with 58% are concerned that automation will consume their role.

The changing face of the workforce

Millennials entering the workforce also have an impact on the role of the CFO, with almost half (44%) of those surveyed agreeing that younger people entering the profession are helping to evolve the role from number cruncher to business advisor. While fraud and cybersecurity was raised as a top concern, there’s a clear divide between millennials and older finance professionals. Millennials are preconditioned to a technology-first world and are less concerned with data breaches and misuse of personal data which translates in a business context.

By Kerry Agiasotis, Executive Vice President of Sage Asia Pacific

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