Conference Updates

National Harbor, MD, May 31, 2023

Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conference Day 1 Highlights

We are bringing you news and highlights from the Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conference 2023, taking place this week in National Harbor, MD. Below is a collection of key announcements and insights coming out of the conference.

On Day 1 of the conference we are looking at how to reignite finance technology strategy to drive agility; how to create an AI-forward organization that leads to autonomous finance, how to accelerate finance strategy objectives and how technology is changing finance process improvement.

Key Announcements

Reignite Your Finance Technology Strategy to Enable Agility and Win in Uncertain Times

Presented by Nisha Bhandare, VP Analyst, Gartner

Sixty-four percent of CFOs believe autonomous finance will be a reality in five years. Yet 70% of technology investments fail because of an outdated technology mindset in finance. In this session, Nisha Bhandare, VP Analyst at Gartner, discussed how finance can increase agility and deliver innovation by embracing a composable technology strategy. 

Key Takeaways

  • “A composable paradigm is designed around modular technology solutions and best-fit vendors that deliver specific finance capabilities.”

  • “CFOs don’t have to choose between being efficient or being innovative. Composability enables finance to do both by driving standardization in core capabilities and differentiation in value added capabilities.”

  • “Enable a technology governance that supports experimentation and a fail-fast culture in innovative technologies, such as AI, while sticking to traditional implementation approaches in stable technologies such as ERP."
  • “Think top down by identify where innovation is most urgent in finance and encourage experimentation. Execute from the bottom up  by building the foundation and promoting composable thinking across the organization to accelerate agility.”

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Establishing an AI-Forward Organization That Paves the Path to Autonomous Finance

Presented by Mark D. McDonald, Sr Director Analyst, Gartner

The majority of finance leaders who are plotting a course to autonomous finance will see their efforts fail unless they break away from methodologies of the previous two decades. In this session, Mark D. McDonald, Sr Director Analyst at Gartner, discussed how leading companies are bridging the gap between the semi-automated function of today to an autonomous organization of tomorrow.

Key Takeaways

  • “A major challenge to AI use is a lack of comprehension that it is human-like, but not human. It’s important to be aware of what AI can and cannot be trusted to do in any context it is used.”

  • “The tendency to believe that because AI can do some things like humans, it can do all things like humans creates inflated expectations from leadership but also resistance from employees because of fears about being replaced.”

  • “Leading organizations address this cultural resistance by positioning AI as a coworker that helps people do their jobs better rather than doing their jobs for them. Such an approach increases AI success sixfold, and triples job satisfaction.

  • “AI is an enormous opportunity to increase productivity but also requires a radical change in how organizations function. This requires change from both leaders and employees. AI is an organizational capability not just a technology.”

  • "To position AI as a coworker and mitigate cultural resistance, finance leaders should start small and clearly communicate an intention to prioritize productivity use cases and use newly available capacity that is freed up for value-add work.”

Finance 2025 Progress Report: Opportunities to Accelerate Your Finance Function

Presented by Peter Nagy, Sr Director Analyst, Gartner

In this session, Peter Nagy, Sr Director Analyst at Gartner, discussed how finance leaders can accelerate their finance strategy across four main pillars: Data on demand, a highly-scaled finance delivery model, a “digital by default” approach to driving process and technology improvements, and employees with an enhanced breadth of skills. 

Key Takeaways

  • “To enable a scalable delivery model, finance should reduce resourcing investments targeted at supporting niche, stakeholder-specific operational needs and should instead pursue portfolio-level value generation opportunities.” 

  • “When it comes to process and technology, to effectively manage an increasingly complex and disruptive environment of digital initiatives, finance must stop delaying digital innovation in favor of ongoing process optimization efforts.” 

  • “Top performing companies focus on ensuring that processes are sufficiently resilient to be able to adapt as digital innovations are pursued.”

  • “Finance organizations should continue to expand their analytical scopes and usage of self-service reporting while working to enhance the decision-readiness of finance-owned data.”

  • “Finance leaders should complement the function's expanding competency profiles by developing strategies to enhance kinship and belonging among key digital talent, to drive retention of critical new skills.”

Finance Process Improvement: How Technology Is Changing the Game

Presented by Tamara Shipley, VP Analyst, Gartner

Advances in technology have changed finance process improvement. In this session, Tamara Shipley, VP Analyst at Gartner, discussed how finance leaders need to look beyond what they’ve been doing for years and familiarize themselves with technologies that can optimize, automate and even transform the finance processes they own.

Key Takeaways

  • “Finance process improvement starts with setting a goal for what constitutes process excellence. This goal enables smart decisions on where and how to improve by effectively identifying what’s getting in the way of process excellence.”
  • “Finance process excellence is achieved by the exploration of what technologies are in the market, as well as how machine learning and AI are enabling better decision-making by predicting outcomes and prescribing targeted actions.”
  • “Many finance departments are finding Integrated Invoice-to-Cash Applications can use data to predict when customers will pay, and this informs targeted collections strategies that allow them to collect cash faster."
  • “To truly benefit from technology-driven process improvement, every team needs to be familiar with the technology that is available in their process space, as well as technologies such as RPA and process mining that can be valuable tools in the automation and optimization toolkit for finance process improvement.”

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