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Top 10 CFO Priorities Require Rethinking Finance

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role is essential to digital business growth. While CFOs do not get closely involved in the tactical details of the digital transformation of their functions, they still recognize its strategic importance.

According to the latest survey by Gartner, CFOs are faced with the challenge of balancing the need for substantive digital business innovation with financial cost control and risk management.

"CFOs will be stretched thinly across many activities in 2023. The survey revealed a wide range of actions CFOs plan to either lead or be significantly involved with," said Marko Horvat, vice president at Gartner.

Survey Findings: The Top Ten Priorities

Cost Optimization - Cost reduction remains the top priority for CFOs as they look for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency in their operations. This includes identifying cost-saving opportunities through automation, outsourcing, and business process improvement.

Business Continuity - The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of business continuity planning and disaster recovery. CFOs are now prioritizing these efforts to ensure their organizations are prepared for any future disruptions.

Digital Transformation - CFOs are focusing on digital transformation to enhance the customer experience, improve operational efficiency, and drive growth. This includes investments in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other business technology solutions.

Risk Management - CFOs are increasingly concerned with managing risk in a rapidly changing business landscape. This includes identifying and mitigating financial, operational, and cybersecurity risks.

Regulatory Compliance - The increased regulatory environment is a growing concern for CFOs, who must ensure their organizations are in compliance with various laws and regulations.

Talent Management - Attracting and retaining top talent is a priority for CFOs as they seek to build a strong, capable workforce. This includes developing programs and benefits that support employee well-being and engagement.

Data Management - CFOs are placing a greater emphasis on data management to improve decision-making, drive growth, and manage risk. This includes efforts to increase data quality, enhance data security, and develop data analytics capabilities.

Mergers and Acquisitions - CFOs are considering mergers and acquisitions as a way to drive growth and increase market share. This includes evaluating potential M&A targets, conducting due diligence, and negotiating deals.

Financial Planning and Analysis - CFOs are focusing on improving financial planning and analysis to ensure they have accurate, up-to-date information to inform business decisions. This includes enhancing forecasting and budgeting processes, and improving data visualization.

Working Capital Management - CFOs are focusing on working capital management to improve cash flow, reduce debt, and maintain financial stability. This includes managing accounts payable and receivable, reducing inventory levels, and improving payment terms.

Outlook for CFO Change Management

The Gartner survey findings exposed the big challenges and opportunities for CFOs in the coming year. 

From business process optimization and risk management to digital transformation investment and talent retention, CFOs must carefully balance innovation and growth with expense cost control.

The priorities identified in this Gartner survey provide a roadmap for CFOs as they navigate the changing business landscape and work to ensure their organizations are positioned for success.

That said, I believe we should anticipate that forward-looking CFOs will continue to selectively invest in their strategic business technology projects that deliver significant competitive advantages.

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