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CFOs and Tech Priorities: Three Insights

As 2020 continues to present us with unprecedented times, Bill.com wanted to better understand how we could support businesses adapting to the changing landscape. In collaboration with the research arm of CFO.com, we surveyed more than 300 senior finance executives to understand what was top-of-mind for them and their plans for the future. Below are the top three insights uncovered from our research. The full research report is available to download.

Cash Flow Management Remains a Top Priority

First up, the non-surprise: given economic uncertainty, cash flow management was the most-cited key area of concern for finance professionals, followed next with forecast accuracy. With many businesses also navigating remote employees, it’s not surprising that managing data security, control over financial processes and financial statement accuracy round out the top five. With a staggering 88% of respondents, cash flow is a top area of planned investments.

Interest in AP/AR Automation is High

Next up, an acceleration of a trend we were seeing before the pandemic. Prior to shelter-in-place orders, there was strong support in adopting technology solutions that automated workflow for accounts payable and accounts receivable, and offered electronic payments. Businesses wanted faster and more precise payment schedules, better cash management, stronger AP controls, and fewer manual and paper processes.

Current work-from-home requirements have bolstered the case for adding such software. A majority of the executives surveyed say their finance teams aren’t remotely executing their AP and AR processes with full effectiveness.

That large margin for improvement leads to the growing interest in evaluating and/or investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize timeliness and accuracy, as both are so fundamental to the finance function.

As we referenced in the research report, we find that CFOs tend to focus on adding technology for their finance teams first for the most manual and rules-driven tasks, then move to areas that consolidate work from multiple divisions of a company, such as AP automation, and last to areas that require the most judgement, such as financial planning and analysis.

To help teams work remotely, more than 91% of respondents indicated they are investing in financial technology. How automated a business is varies based on company size, as determined by annual revenue.

Tech Enthusiasm Correlates to Business Growth Optimism

And finally, an interesting correlation between how executives characterize their approach to technology adoption with their outlook on their company’s growth prospects over the next 12 months.

Finance executives in the survey revealed themselves to be remarkably open to new technology-based solutions. When asked how they characterize their company’s approach to adopting new technologies within the finance department, 50% of the surveyed executives describe themselves as enthusiasts, which means they embrace new technologies when they learn about them. When we parsed expectations for company growth over the next year by level of enthusiasm, 65% of enthusiasts expect their company to grow, while only 5% predict a decline. The percentages shift as enthusiasm dwindles, until we’re at the other end of the spectrum, with only 11% of skeptics expect growth and 22% a decline.

A Closing Thought

The CEOs, CFOs and other senior finance executives we surveyed understand that investment in financial technology solutions would have a positive impact on how their departments function, enabling remote workers to be more agile, while also improving cash flow, forecast accuracy and risk management.

We’re proud that Bill.com’s software and services support those interests and that our talented employees are helping businesses adopt new technology solutions to help their financial departments address current issues while also setting the stage for future successes. Bill.com embraces artificial intelligence and machine learning to replace manual tasks, offers electronic payments and enables workflow automation for AP and AR. If you’d like to learn more, please sign up for a live demo. If you’d ready to revolutionize your financial workflow, I invite you to your risk-free trial today.

 

October 13, 2020
Mark Gervase
Director, Product Marketing, Bill.com
Mark works with accountants and finance professionals to achieve efficiency and intelligence through automation. He is a former CPA with experience in public accounting and corporate finance and has a background in helping companies use financial technology. Mark holds an MBA and BA in Economics from the University of California Berkeley.