A Gartner, Inc. survey of 173 CFOs in October 2020 highlighted a daunting list of digital priorities for 2021, from the implementation of advanced data analytics and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies to accelerating digital skills among their teams. The survey also revealed that most CFOs were not confident in successfully meeting their highest priority digital objectives for the coming year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced CFOs to abruptly assess both their organizations’ and functions’ current digital capabilities, and they have clearly found many areas lacking,” said Alexander Bant, chief of research in the Gartner Finance practice. “Next year will be about accelerating digital investment timelines from the pace of a multi-year marathon to a 12 month sprint. However, most CFOs aren’t sure they will successfully cross the finish line in many of these areas.”
Gartner’s survey asked CFOs where they will spend more time in 2021 compared to 2020, and where they anticipate difficulties in achieving their goals. Among digital priorities, the top three areas for greater investment of time were all also accompanied by significant levels of doubt among CFOs, with half or more expecting it to be difficult to achieve their top digital goals (see Figure 1).
While 82% of respondents indicated that advanced data analytics technologies and tools were a top priority, nearly as many, 78%, expected it to be difficult to successfully achieve their goals in this area next year.