Gartner’s CFO & Finance Executive Conference (May 31- June 1) brought together some of the world’s most prominent CFOs and finance executives in National Harbor, Maryland. The event shed light on the evolving landscape of finance and emphasized the crucial role of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI). Didn’t get to go? Here, we’ll explore key takeaways as we all start to implement our AI finance future.
1) Embracing AI as a Game-Changer:
First off, the conference highlighted the growing consensus among finance leaders that AI is a “transformative force” in finance. Organizations that invest in AI skills for their finance teams are projected to double productivity by 2026 compared to those without such capabilities, according to Gartner research. This can be pretty frightening, the conference heard.
Dennis Gannon, vice president analyst in the Gartner Finance practice, said: “As AI becomes ever more capable and can carry out more work in the finance function, inevitably the question arises about whether AI replaces human employees.” In fact, as our next point shows some shifting in recruitment priorities is recommended.
2) Shifting Hiring Profiles in an AI Era:
To meet the reality of this new era, CFOs were advised to revise the job specs of hires. The focus should be on recruiting talent with backgrounds in technology or AI-related fields, such as data science, statistics, or computer programming. Additionally, the proportion of new hires with finance or accounting backgrounds should be reduced to less than 50%, according to Gartner research titled “Building Finance Teams for an AI Future.”
3) CFOs must shift their Leadership Style:
CFOs and managers in their finance teams must adapt their leadership styles to effectively incorporate new technologies, especially ones that help integrate AI and upgrade financial automation into their systems. Employers need to be adaptive and responsive to evolving expectations and the impact on their teams.
Employees who feel disconnected or lack a sense of purpose in the workplace may also struggle to embrace new technologies. In such cases, it is crucial for leaders to become more hands-on and collaborative. Using change management principles, those seeking shifts in technological behavior must identify which employees are receptive to change and involve them in the integration process to foster a sense of ownership and enthusiasm.
4) Set up finance specific IT systems:
Organizations should seriously consider establishing finance-specific IT departments. These dedicated teams can proactively tackle technical challenges, leverage their specialized expertise, and bring fresh non-finance perspectives to the table, thus facilitating smooth technology adoption and fostering a culture of innovation within finance operations.
5) Ensure tech deeply aligns with company’s needs:
While innovation is crucial, falling into groupthink or being swayed by the buzz around new technologies can be detrimental, especially for companies operating on a budget. Finance leaders should balance approachability with skepticism, not hesitating to dismiss ideas that are costly, premature, or impractical. Prioritizing the evaluation and integration of technology that aligns with each company’s specific needs is vital, the conference heard.
6) Develop empathy and synergy between tech and finance:
Finally, finance leaders must prioritize empathy, adaptability, and authenticity while skillfully navigating the delicate balance between AI and technology. As Dennis Gannon says: “When the synergy between humans and machines thrives, they synergistically enhance each other’s capabilities and bring about truly remarkable results.”
The Gartner CFO & Finance Executive Conference provided valuable insights into the changing landscape of finance. Adaptive leadership, the development of finance-specific IT departments, critical thinking, and the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines emerged as key themes. As finance organizations navigate this new technological frontier, embracing empathy, authenticity, and continuous learning will be vital for success.