Epicor Study Reveals The Evolving Role Of The CFO

Epicor has shared findings from “The Evolving Role of the CFO in 2023,” an IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Epicor. The study revealed more than 80% of manufacturing and distribution organisations surveyed agreed that today’s economic uncertainty has “significantly” elevated the importance of the CFO in driving strategy and technology optimisation initiatives. Financial performance and growth were cited as the top IT investment drivers in the current economic climate.

“The back office is not the back office anymore, with CFOs and their finance organisations increasingly playing a more vital role in driving IT investment to compete and grow,” said Marco de Vries, Epicor Vice President of Product Marketing. “It’s all about transforming the speed and efficiency in decision-making across the business, which is critically important for supply chain industries that have faced continual disruption and economic pressures to adapt and thrive.”

With a heightened focus on data management to drive enterprise agility and real-time decision-making, CFOs are looking for ways to modernise the tools the finance and accounting departments rely on to improve efficiency and business performance.

Foundationally, that includes increased investments in cloud technologies, with half of organisations surveyed planning to move to the cloud in the next one to two years to strengthen data accessibility, reduce organisational silos, and improve security. Top use cases identified for optimisation include financial planning and analysis (FP&A), cash management, and accounts payable automation. Manufacturers indicated they are more focused on period-end closing; distributors more on inventory management.

In addition, 42% of respondents agreed that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities will have the greatest impact in their organisations over the next five years by finding patterns, turning data into actionable insights, and enabling automation across business and production processes.

Respondents also indicated that growing talent gaps are impacting all parts of their business, with one third saying the need to address labour issues is their top overall business objective. Lack of knowledge is the biggest reason for finance and accounting talent issues — finding ways to capture, manage, and share expertise across the organisation will be critical.

“With their keen eye for numbers and ability to correlate these to industry trends, CFOs are perfectly positioned to unlock the tremendous potential of data being generated by modern manufacturing and distribution enterprises. But with data volumes soaring, they need powerful tools — such as our industry-leading ERP Cloud portfolio — to gain actionable insights to optimise and automate business flows and drive time-to-value. In doing so, they will be able to champion a data-first strategy, not just in their finance department, but throughout the organisation,” said Vibhu Kapoor, Regional Vice President – Middle East, Africa & India, Epicor.