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CFOs betting big on AI, machine learning, robotics process automation as business goes digital

A Grant Thornton survey of CFOs found finance leaders will invest in emerging technologies with real returns on investment.

Tech Budgets 2019: Surveys and projections

CFOs have increased their bets on artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotic process automation, analytics and blockchain as they are looking automate to boost savings, efficiency and agility, according to a Grant Thornton survey.

SEE: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Grant Thornton and CFO Research surveyed 378 senior finance executives from companies with revenue between $100 million and more than $20 billion. The findings reveal that CFOs are ready to invest heavily in emerging technologies as well as digital transformation.

According to the Grant Thornton report:

The digital transformation journey will also require CFOs to alter their mindset when it comes to technology investments. CFOs must be willing to experiment—and incur failures along the way—or risk falling behind.

Nothing like returns on investment from lower labor costs, productivity and efficiency gains to get CFOs on the new technology bandwagon. CFOs, however, will be judged on hard cost savings as well as long-term thinking.

The survey found that CFOs are prioritizing advanced analytics, machine learning, optical character recognition and artificial intelligence. CFOs are identifying use cases and piloting technologies quickly.

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For instance, 38 percent of CFOs said they have implemented advanced analytics, up from 24 percent in 2018. AI has been implemented by 25 percent of CFOs in 2019, up from 7 percent in 2018. Blockchain was cited as implemented by 22 percent of CFOs, up from nothing in 2018. Whether it's robotics process automation, machine learning or robots, CFOs are upping implementations.

Grant Thornton

CFOs are jumping into emerging technologies as boards are demanding digital initiatives. Automation also cuts costs too. According to Grant Thornton, 91 percent of finance leaders feel it's the CFO's job to ensure technology benefits are realized. In addition, 83 percent agree that technology purchases need to be connected to quantifiable ROIs.

Grant Thornton

The Grant Thornton survey makes the argument that finance teams are going to look a lot more like technology teams. Data analytics, tech purchasing, innovation, customer experience and applications development are seen as core skill sets needed for digital transformation.

Grant Thornton
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