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In the fast-changing world of finance, how do finance executives currently feel about the stability of the field and their personal future? According to a recent CFO Research study, finance executives see a bright future in their career and believe their long-term effectiveness will be significantly affected by the ability to incorporate new technologies into their work.

These were some of the results from a recent global survey of finance professionals Sponsored by SAP. The goal of the study was to examine top finance executives’ feelings and concerns about the future of finance. More than 1500 people responded, and four key concepts emerged: embracing their role, expanding responsibility, managing change and dealing with the rise of digitalization and automation.

1. Embracing Their Pivotal Role

More than 80 percent of respondents reported that they feel finance has exceeded their expectations for engaging and meaningful work. More than 25 percent stated that their expectations had been exceeded by a substantial amount.

They enjoy the role they play in helping guide the success of organizations and believe there are more opportunities for valuable and impressive work over the next five years. Respondents said they look forward to the constant evolution of their job function. They understand that their role in organizations will expand, providing new opportunities and a potential for promotion.

2. Expanding Scope of Responsibility

The role of finance continues to evolve as companies grow and change. While financial professionals still handle traditional areas related to finance, they are increasingly getting involved in departments such as sales, corporate strategy, and business development. Since finance executives manage the metrics of the company, they believe their influence will expand into corporate functions such as procurement, risk management, information technology, and supply chain management.

3. Managing Rapid Change

Technology has impacted every level of modern life and business, and financial professionals want to incorporate it to a greater degree. More than 80 percent of respondents reported they believe their organization's long-term success depends on the ability to deal with constant change and uncertainty in the marketplace.

Almost 90 percent of respondents said financial executives have to provide more high-value contributions that impact company performance. They want to provide more valuable data and information to help set performance goals, and assist in service execution to meet those targets. The idea is that financial executives will be able to provide more value by not only reporting metrics, but also putting them in proper context and suggesting relevant strategy and tactics.

4. Digitalization and Automation

Technological innovations in data warehousing, data processing, analytics and real-time collaboration, are increasing the digitalization and automation of business at a rapid pace. Almost 70 percent of survey respondents said they expect that large volumes of data, and the increasingly complex systems that produce them, will create tremendous challenges.

In fact, over 75 percent of those surveyed said their firm's success will hinge on providing a unified, current set of financial information. They also realize that they will face the challenge of dealing with massive data sets, commonly called "big data." The challenge is figuring out how to pull data out efficiently to create useful reports for business forecasting, trend analysis, and government compliance.

Need for Better Analytical Tools

Many respondents don't believe their current technology allows their companies to adapt to the rapid changes. High-level analytical tools and advanced methods to perform financial modeling and calculations are needed if they are to provide organizational leadership with effective guidance. For example, almost three-quarters of respondents said they feel their firms must add modern technologies like mobile devices and applications to their enterprise information infrastructure.

Financial professionals are confident about their role in the organization and look forward to more interaction and collaboration. With better software, more effective analytical tools, finance trends like automation, and a commitment to keeping up with technological change, these executives feel they will be better equipped to meet the finance mandate for smart recommendations and suggestions for organizational success.

To explore the full report or executive summary of the global survey of 1544 finance professionals, ...