The regularly published "CFO 4.0" surveys take the pulse of digital transformation in the CFO function in European companies - and for the first time also in Asian companies. We show the status quo, the challenges, and the opportunities for organizations in different countries, industries, and sizes to successfully cope with this megatrend.

The CFO 4.0 Study 2021 Part 1, the first of two publications, shows the results of our CFO 4.0 Study 2021 regarding the status of current digital maturity and future digital transformation.

The new study makes it clear that the COVID 19 pandemic has once again accelerated the digital transformation in the CFO sector. For instance, the current company figures show that digital CFO innovations at companies are increasing significantly compared to the times before the pandemic. Companies are now integrating this progress into their strategies and taking their benefits from it despite the challenging and tense business and market situation.

Digitization wave and maturity of CFO activities on the rise

The study shows that many companies have reached the third and highest wave of digitization of their CFO tasks. In addition, 23 percent of finance professionals now use their time for value-added services – which are 11 percent more than before the pandemic.

The average digital maturity level has also improved in comparison. Besides the use of digital technologies, an ideal maturity level also includes the performance and capabilities that improve CFO processes and performance, enabling a greater number of value-creating services.

Stefani Rahmel, Partner at BearingPoint

Our study allows us to prove how much the COVID 19 crisis has changed the CFO areas of companies in Europe. Experts had feared that the pandemic would inhibit digital CFO innovation. But our figures show that it is the opposite. Rather, it has been a turbo in digital transformation in the CFO space. On the one hand, this includes hard factors such as the introduction of state-of-the-art software solutions, and on the other, soft factors such as employee qualification and change management. The former must, of course, go hand in hand with the latter.

Stefani Rahmel, Partner at BearingPoint

Various factors have an impact on transformation

While a lack of clear strategy and vision are no longer a major threat, a very heterogeneous IT architecture of companies often poses a greater risk. Moreover, too many priorities at the same time and a lack of exchange between individual departments are also a major challenge.

In general, however, the transformation of companies is accelerating thanks to digital solutions that support companies in financial analyses and improve collaboration.

Johannes Vogel, Director at BearingPoint

Many companies have seen and seized the opportunity to accelerate their transformation towards a faster, smarter and leaner organization, despite the enormous upheavals in the market and the associated risks and burdens for finance departments. Our CFO 4.0 study also clearly shows that more and more companies are developing or updating their own finance strategies. This is a good sign. After all, a sophisticated finance strategy is not considered the starting point for a successful finance transformation for nothing. And it is urgently needed, as the pandemic has taught us.

Johannes Vogel, Director at BearingPoint

Key Results:

  • 76 % Strategy: agree or strongly agree that digitalization is an integral part of their CFO strategy
  • 87% Organization: express confidence in their CFO function’s readiness to respond to and leverage digital trends
  • 54 %: People: believe their employees have sufficient skills to execute the organization’s digital transformation.
  • 56 %: Technology: Have already adopted or are currently working to adopt Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
  • 49 %: Data: Agree that better use of high-quality data is one of the most important benefits of digitalization

Interested? The entire study “CFO 4.0“ is available in the download area.

CFO 4.0 study in brief

The results of our CFO 4.0 Study 2021 are based on survey data gathered through an online questionnaire from companies across Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Southeast Asia. CFOs and other key members of the CFO function were invited to participate in the survey. Overall, we received 256 completed questionnaires. Data collection was conducted from mid-April 2021 until the end of June 2021.

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