Conference Updates

London, September 19, 2023

Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conference, London 2023: Day 2 Highlights

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

On Day 2 of the conference we are looking at building finance teams for an AI future; refreshing finance technology strategy; understanding the finance technology strategy consulting market and how to be a top sustainability CFO.

Key Announcements

Building Finance Teams for an AI Future

Presented by Mark D. Mcdonald, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner

AI is a technology that can truly emulate human behavior, but something this radical will also necessitate equally radical shifts in the way finance teams work. In this session, Mark D. McDonald, senior director analyst at Gartner, explored how to build finance teams that can exploit the technology effectively and responsibly.

Key Takeaways

  • “Corporate finance teams have painted themselves into a corner: demand for finance work has grown beyond the function’s ability to meet it.” 

  • “Technology adoption levels do not satisfy modern needs, and people are maxed out working long hours making the profession unattractive with fewer entering the profession and a growing number leaving.”

  • “AI offers a way to excite a younger ‘AI generation’ that has the skills to use the technology. It provides a way to codify and preserve the knowledge of the most experienced employees, and it can cope better with the increased complexity of modern finance demands.”

  • “It is important to position AI as a coworker, and to divide labor in the most effective way, so people and machines each do the work they are best suited for. 

  • Progress can be delivered in a learning loop where people build machines, frame the rules, and scope of work for them. Machines can parse through large datasets, make calculations, automate mundane processes and give warnings and advice, while humans handle exceptions, update processes and refine the machines.” 

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 Yet 70% of technology investments fail because of an outdated technology mindset in finance.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 identifying 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.”

Finance Transformation Strategy Consulting Market Guide

Presented by Geraldine Garaud, Director Analyst, Gartner

The finance transformation strategy consulting market offers services to help CFOs define strategies and roadmaps across multiple business-aligned, forward-looking initiatives. In this session, Geraldine Garaud, director analyst at Gartner, examined how the market is evolving.

Key Takeaways

  • “It’s critical to distinguish between, and separate, finance transformation strategy consulting support evaluations from finance transformation execution support evaluations.”
  • “To execute successful finance transformations, strategy must come first. Strategy consulting, typically executed in a 12-week period, differs from execution consulting in that it requires cross-pillar (as opposed to niche) acumen and is aligned to critical business (as opposed to project) outcomes.”
  • “Providers in this market are developing several emerging capabilities, such as capability investments, delivery solutions and subject matter expertise expansion to help CFOs plan finance transformation better.”
  • “CFOs surveying this market should look for service providers’ demonstrated ability to deliver tailored recommendations in shorter time frames through more flexible agreements.” 

How to Be a World-Class ESG CFO

Presented by Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP Analyst, Gartner

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) has become a top strategic priority for companies, and as a result, increasing attention and pressure is being placed on CFOs to maximize the ESG value equation for their organizations.  In this session, Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, discussed how financial executives can implement and execute ESG programs that maximize market valuation.

Key Takeaways

  • “By 2027, 80% of CFOs will be hired for their ESG credentials.”
  • “Translate material issues into goals with concrete impacts that address stakeholder concerns and positively impact risk, growth, or operations.”
  • “Choose goals that can be broken down into measurable targets with quantifiable key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Prioritize metrics that are comparable with industry peers to optimize their utility for investors.”
  • “Even though some social or environmental initiatives may yield a lower return, they are a relatively small part of the total budget, so the overall rate of return across all investments can be attractive.”
  • “Use different criteria for ESG investments. For example, does the investment align with enterprise values? Does the investment address an important stakeholder issue? Does the investment differentiate you from competitors?”
  • “A new value equation is emerging, and ESG is influencing this evolution. Activism, preferences, values, and new geopolitical concerns of multiple stakeholders (including shareholders) influence what value organizations create and how.”

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