The 2020 CFO Indicator Survey Report

How finance leaders are embracing digital transformation

Between March and May 2020, we asked 225 CFOs from global organizations how they’re rising to the challenges of COVID-19 by initiating finance digital transformation. Tool Tip

Get a rundown of the findings and learn how finance digital transformation helps CFOs adapt to unprecedented change.

Download the Full Report
How finance leaders take on a changing world

Key insights from the survey.

Many organizations are behind on digital transformation.
Many organizations are behind on digital transformation. - Pie Chart
COVID-19 has shifted CFOs' focus.

New CFO priorities in response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 has shifted CFOs focus. - Bar Chart
Finance leaders will focus on transformation in the future.

While just 5% of CFOs were focused on finance digital transformation as COVID-19 unfolded, 34% now plan to prioritize it within the next year.

Finance leaders will focus on transformation in the future - Pie Chart
A deeper dive into findings

The two types of finance organizations.

Digital accelerators Image

Digital accelerators.

More than half (54%) of surveyed CFOs have implemented digital transformation initiatives for their finance organizations.

Digital accelerators Image

Digital novices.

The remaining respondents (46%) say they haven’t yet started their digital finance transformation journeys.

Digital accelerators are reaping the benefits.

Increased agility.

70% of digital accelerators consider their teams to be better at responding and reacting quickly to change.

More confidence.

73% are confident in the accuracy of their two-year P&L forecast.

Greater efficacy.

Nearly 79% of digital accelerators describe their team as more proficient at reporting, planning, and financial close.

What’s holding back digital transformation efforts?

What’s holding back digital transformation efforts?
31% of finance leaders say that their digital transformation initiatives have stalled.
Lack of skills to use new technologies
Lack of skills to use new technologies
Internal resistance to change
Internal resistance to change
Blind spots in company strategy
Blind spots in company strategy

How CFOs can change the status quo.

Close the skills gap

Close the skills gap.

Through recruitment and reskilling, CFOs can work with HR to build a workforce that drives digital transformation and meets finance’s broader goals.

Digital accelerators Image

Foster cultures of innovation.

By embracing new technologies, processes, and ways of working, CFOs can create agile workplaces designed to adapt.

Stale data leads to stale insights.

Roughly half of CFOs say that critical business decisions are delayed because of conflicting data between finance and operations and a lack of real-time data. What’s more, inadequate data capabilities are leading to suboptimal enterprise performance reporting and analytics.

Bringing performance, operational, and finance data together in the same system can provide the timely, accurate insights that today’s organizations need.

Ways to overcome data challenges.

How can CFOs and their teams use data more efficiently? Our survey uncovered five key areas to focus on.

  • Hone technology skills.

    Recruit and train teams that can fully leverage technologies—such as machine learning augmented analytics—to manage and analyze data.

  • Put risk and compliance at the heart of data strategy.

    Place tight governance controls on how data is accessed and how it’s used to better address today’s data privacy regulations and increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats.

  • Explore advanced technologies.

    Don’t just implement AI for the sake of it—determine which finance processes could benefit most from automation and machine learning, such as planning and budgeting and financial consolidation and close.

  • Create one source for data.

    Avoid data conflicts altogether by using a cloud enterprise system that brings all your data together in one place.

  • Become the performance data steward.

    Treat data as a strategic business asset and take more ownership of how it’s collected, stored, analyzed, and managed.

Forward-thinking CFOs focus on forward-looking skills.

When asked which skills were most essential to future success, CFOs zeroed-in on predictive modeling and scenario planning, as well as risk identification and management.

These skills help CFOs better plan for change and navigate uncertainty while managing a broad spectrum of risks, including cybersecurity and supply chain interruption.

Not surprisingly, the least-desired skill by CFOs is spreadsheet proficiency.


Digital transformation is the future of finance.

Digital transformation is the future of finance

For many CFOs, COVID-19 has heightened the importance of agility and has proven that digital transformation is more than a nice to have—it’s necessary.

As the survey shows, CFOs who pursue finance digital transformation have more agile business practices, make faster decisions, and perform more efficient reporting, planning, and financial close.

And while transforming the finance function is not easy, CFOs are more than up to the task and have the power to drive lasting, meaningful change.

  • About the Survey
  • Executive Summary
  • Two Types of Finance Organizations
  • How CFOs Can Effect Change
  • Overcoming Data Challenges
  • Forward-Looking Skills
  • The Big Takeaway

Download the full CFO Indicator Survey Report.