Seventy percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) rank big data as the top influence on strategic business decisions, and more than half (55 percent) are evolving team roles from number crunchers to strategic analysts, according to an Adaptive Insights survey of more than 250 CFOs across the United States.
Nearly 70 percent rank data-based insights as the top influence on strategic business decisions, and 40 percent said they consider the ability to leverage analytics to make data-driven decisions as one of their most required skills.
Approximately half (49 percent) said they desire 360-degree competitive visibility to improve business decisions, and nearly 30 percent plan to improve forecasting capabilities through financial planning solutions.
"The cloud helps CFOs automate an otherwise cumbersome process. Before the cloud, finance departments had no other option but to struggle with aging, difficult-to-use on-premise tools, or error-prone, non-collaborative Excel spreadsheets," Rob Hull, Adaptive Insights founder and chairman, told eWEEK. "The cloud allows CFOs to become more collaborative, dynamic and geographically dispersed. Native Web and mobile capabilities allow customers to access CPM and BI systems from any place at any time."
Hull explained the cloud also allows automatic updates to ensure business users always have access to the latest innovations.
In addition, CFOs report cloud solutions increase collaboration (25 percent) and reduce dependence on IT (24 percent), improving analysis of global market fluctuations through access to real-time data.
Fifty percent validate the strategic value of cloud software; they stated they would consider trading Excel for cloud-based solutions, and Hull noted mobile technology is also giving CFOs more leeway in making business decisions.
"Mobile technology gives CFOs and finance departments universal access to important business insights so that they can make decisions whenever they need to, from wherever they are located," Hull said.
The majority of CFOs (76 percent) see themselves as a navigator, well-equipped to guide their finance teams through fluctuating economic conditions, while 63 percent said they are adept at crisis management, and 52 percent act as firefighter or "traffic cop."
"CFOs are being looked upon to become more strategic business partners and leaders as part of the executive management team," Hull said. "With that in mind, it's no surprise that over half of CFOs are expanding their team's primary functions from number crunching to also include strategic analysis."
Hull noted this is an even higher priority for CFOs at companies with $1 billion or more in revenue (70 percent).
The survey found the majority predict a rise in the U.S. dollar (75 percent), climbing stock prices (61 percent), plummeting gas prices (55 percent) and a record-breaking technology IPO market (33 percent).
Survey respondents also said they foresee an increase in global capital expenditures (54 percent) and continuation of global instability (42 percent).
"When we asked them to identify the most important skills a CFO needs to be successful today, thinking and acting strategically and adapting to internal and external changes were far more important to them than other tasks we traditionally associate with CFOs," he said.