Surveys executed just before and in the course of the pandemic show the coronavirus disaster may perhaps be reshaping the part of the CFO, with senior finance executives shifting their emphasis to crafting system and generating enterprise benefit.

CFO Research (element of Argyle Advisory and Research Companies) and Grant Thornton surveyed 631 CFOs and other senior finance executives in February, then followed up with a study of 174 CFOs and senior finance executives in Might, to gauge the results of the COVID-19 upheaval.

Aside from the altering emphasis of CFOs, the surveys revealed widescale delays for innovation initiatives, a renewed appreciation for enterprise system expertise, cybersecurity cost increases, and appreciate for advanced analytics and synthetic intelligence.

Roles and Responsibilities

The February and Might surveys confirmed that the part of the CFO shifted when the pandemic hit. In each surveys, the executives ended up requested how much of CFOs’ time would be spent in these four roles: strategist (crafting company system) change agent (generating enterprise benefit) producer (standardizing and automating transactional procedures) and guardian (standardizing handle and compliance procedures).

In February, the study respondents described that CFOs’ time was divided relatively equally throughout the four roles. But by Might that stability had shifted in response to the COVID-19 disaster: strategist and change agent roles ended up using more of CFOs’ time when compared with the producer and guardian roles.

Irrespective of the evident shift to more ahead-looking jobs, the coronavirus forced a substantial vast majority of CFOs to place off or change their options for innovation initiatives. Eight out of ten surveyed finance executives had delayed or reshaped innovation initiatives in Might. Sixty-two percent of the respondents described that the COVID-19 disaster had delayed their transformational initiatives when 19{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} mentioned the disaster had reshaped their initiatives and they ended up pursuing a distinct approach. The remaining 19{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} described that the disaster had accelerated transformation initiatives.

Delaying and reshaping innovation initiatives does not suggest they are extinguished. More than ninety{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of 335 finance pros polled in the course of a Grant Thornton webinar in June mentioned they planned to continue to innovate, even in the course of the COVID-19 downturn.

Automation Stays the Program

Advanced analytics and synthetic intelligence ended up favored categories of automation technological know-how in each the February and Might surveys.

A vast majority of the executives in the Might study described that their options for employing automation technologies had not been delayed by the pandemic. More executives slated advanced analytics for accelerated implementation (29{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}) than they did any other class of technological know-how. Artificial intelligence was a close second at 23{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}.

The February study had requested executives when they expected to implement a record of specified automation technologies. Most respondents (fifty five{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}) had previously implemented advanced analytics. Optical character recognition was the second-most-previously-implemented automation technological know-how, at 40{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}. Artificial intelligence had the optimum proportion of planned implementations inside twelve months (33{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), followed by robotic approach automation (thirty{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}).

In a December 2019 economic downturn preparedness study by Grant Thornton, 70{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of respondents described options to enhance their electronic investments in innovation/technological know-how, electronic transformation, and/or cybersecurity, even amid expanding indicators of a slowdown. In the February CFO study, about 70{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of the senior finance executives described they had both implemented essential rising technologies or they would be employing them inside two many years.

When requested in Might about how charges would change more than the next yr for the reason that of COVID-19, cybersecurity had the optimum proportion of executives projecting increases (forty four{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}) followed by IT/electronic transformation (40{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), education and development (22{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), operations (21{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), and promoting (19{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}). Not amazingly, the categories with the least expensive projections for cost increases ended up vacation (four{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), serious estate (6{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), recruiting (7{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}), and workforce (7{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}). Ninety percent of the executives projected their vacation charges would lower.

Love for Enterprise Technique

Fitting with the obtaining of CFOs observing by themselves in more strategic roles in the course of the pandemic, the finance executives surveyed held enterprise system expertise in superior regard.

They noticed enterprise system as an critical skillset each just before and just after the onset of the pandemic. Operations management expertise ended up almost as valued as enterprise system expertise in the pandemic disaster natural environment. When finance executives ended up requested which critical skill they had leveraged for the reason that of the coronavirus disaster, the most-cited response was enterprise system, selected by 34{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of the executives, followed by operations management (29{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}). Details analytics and innovation/entrepreneurship ended up tied as the third-most-cited best expertise drawn on in the course of the pandemic, at ten{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}.

The February study requested a related concern — what ended up the most critical skillsets respondents would like to create inside their finance perform? Details analytics and enterprise system ended up the most-cited solutions, by 23{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} and 22{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d} of the respondents, respectively, followed by application development (seventeen{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}) and shopper working experience management (11{bcdc0d62f3e776dc94790ed5d1b431758068d4852e7f370e2bcf45b6c3b9404d}).

Other Impacts

There’s no doubt that enterprise system development was not the only included duty for CFOs arising from the pandemic-induced economic downturn.

Among the the small-term priorities and long lasting impacts of the pandemic, the executives in the Might study individually shown:
• minimized capex
• the opportunity to purchase considerably less-perfectly-capitalized corporations
• minimized funds move impacting debt covenants
• resource prioritization in the confront of constrained provide chains and
• lengthy-term implications of an more and more cellular workforce on office environment place, recruiting, and vacation.

Most of all those impacts will continue to have a substantial influence on what CFOs commit their time on in the coming months. Respondents mentioned they ended up observing CFOs branching out into new locations of organizational leadership, these as top manufacturing and procedures, handling layoffs and shuttering operations, doing work with enterprise models to create several production sources, handling remote workforces, partnering with the local community, and interacting with traders.

Inside of the standard scope of finance, new locations of emphasis for some finance chiefs bundled acquisitions and divestitures, moves to maintain funds and sources, coronavirus fiscal-affect styles, financial investment hazard, forecasting and budgeting, payments and funds move management, hazard mitigation, liquidity management, earnings development, and charge reduction. Paycheck Protection Plan documentation and evaluation also appeared on the record.

Among the the new locations of emphasis inside technological know-how leadership, finance executives shown shifting all functions to paperless, employing function-from-residence technologies, and overseeing IT and protection.
And one particular executive shown a-not-unfamiliar CFO part:

Keith Button is a freelance writer dependent in Valley Cottage, N.Y.

Enterprise Technique, COVID-19, innovation, Concern 2020-09 CFO, Technologies