Conference Updates

National Harbor, MD, June 1, 2023

Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conference Day 2 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 2 of the conference, we are looking at how to drive better outcomes from digital spending; how get accountants bought into digital strategy, how to attract digital finance talent and how to track enterprise technology spend effectively.

Key Announcements

Driving Better Business Outcomes from Enterprise Digital Spending

Presented by Emily Riley, Sr Director, Research, Gartner

Finance leaders have been trying to apply greater financial discipline to digital projects with limited success. In this session, Emily Riley, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, shared how progressive CFOs are driving greater enterprise digital cohesion to realize better business outcomes.

Key Takeaways

  • “Finance is working hard to improve financial discipline around enterprise digital spending.” 

  • Digital projects are unfamiliar, uncertain, and dispersed, making it difficult for finance leaders to vet assumptions, set KPIs up front, or hold anyone accountable for outcomes. 

  • “Improving financial discipline around digital spending is hard, and on its own will be insufficient to drive better outcomes.” 

  • “Organizations that maximize the value of their digital spending do so by creating digital cohesion: managing interdependencies to achieve optimal connectivity of digital initiatives in service of specific, enterprise-level outcomes.”

  • “Digital cohesion requires cross-functional partnership. While only 30% of CFOs and CIOs enjoy a strong partnership, those that do see measurably better outcomes from their enterprise digital spending.” 

  • “Sustaining digital cohesion calls for embedding management of digital interdependencies in enterprise processes, which finance must drive as the owner of investment governance.” 

Getting Your Accountants Bought Into Your Digital Strategy

Presented by Mallory Barg Bulman, Sr Director, Research, Gartner

Accounting teams often display digital conservatism, but often this skepticism is driven by a feeling that accounting will end up cleaning the mess of poorly functioning processes. In this session, Mallory Barg Bulman, Sr Director, Research at Gartner, discussed how to resolve points of disagreement  with key stakeholders, and how finance leaders can get the mindset of accountants ready for digital transformation.

Key Takeaways

  • “To address digital conservatism from accounting teams, finance leaders need to address the problems that accounting tend to feel they have to clean up.” 

  • “Most companies are setting their digital vision statements at too high a level.  As a result, it is masking the disagreements that truly exist between organizational functions, such as finance, procurement and sales.” 

  • “Gartner’s survey asking more than 100 controllers about their digital transformations found that 77% of the time, disagreements between organizational functions slowed down the transformation.”

  • “There are three key aspects to addressing this: 

    • First, set measurable, time-bound, digital objectives. 

    • Second, structure your digital working group for alignment by creating a standardized business case template for digital initiatives.”

    • Third, establish clear criteria to surface misalignment.”

Winning in Tight Labor Market: Strategies to Attract Digital Finance Talent

Presented by Ashwani Gupta, Director Analyst, Gartner

U.S. job demand is 50% higher than pre-pandemic, and 48% of candidates who have accepted an offer are still open to other offers. In this session, Ashwani Gupta, Director Analyst at Gartner, discussed strategies finance leaders can implement to acquire digital talent.

Key Takeaways

  • “It’s key to understand the different kinds of digital talent, how they match up to your function’s needs, and to recruit accordingly.”

  • “Your digital transformation needs to be well-scoped and clearly defined, and you’ll need some form of central finance IT team already in place.”

  • “When ready to hire dedicated digital finance talent, finance leaders need to figure out what those people actually care about most in terms of the role and communicate this clearly in any job descriptions.”

  • “When sourcing candidates, don’t be constrained by traditional role definitions. Scout for adjacent skills internally and externally because even where a candidate may not be a perfect match, the process of upskilling is potentially more efficient.”

  • “Embrace unconventional talent sources with the right skillsets. Alternative talent models can help organizations meet new skills needs at a lower cost than full-time employees.”

Enterprise Technology Spend - Are You Tracking it & What to do if You’re Not

Presented by Jim McGittigan, VP Analyst, Gartner

Finance leaders need to better understand both IT and other technology spend across the enterprise. In this session, Jim McGittigan, VP Analyst at Gartner, shared how to assess and define what technology spend finance leaders should be tracking at an enterprise level and why.

Key Takeaways

  • “Failing to track technology at an enterprise level has the effect of creating opacity and silos that allow value killers to thrive.”

  • “If the business makes decisions on applications or systems without consulting IT this can lead to much higher integration costs and increased risk.”

  • “A holistic view of technology spend is needed in the enterprise to avoid the duplicative and hidden costs of silos, to ensure that ownership and accountability for projects is clear and business cases include all real world costs.”

  • “There is no standard  definition for enterprise-wide technology spend, like there is for traditional IT spend, so CFOs should take the lead in defining what technology does, and does not, need to be tracked and governed at the enterprise level.”

  • “Work across the C-suite to co-create digital governance that is optimized for speed, focused on the risks and customer experience, and is integrated throughout the customer journey.”

  • “The CFO’s role in such a shared governance structure is to drive enterprise-wide tech spend strategy. The CIO should partner with the CFO in tracking the spend. CIOs also should influence the right tech investments, as well as be accountable for most IT costs.”

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