Prophix Software released new survey data from over 700 global finance leaders and Prophix’s findings provide a great overview of how the corporate finance office has been trending over the last few years since COVID, including increased investments in automated tech tools to help finance leaders be more agile with their reporting and forecasting, especially in today’s volatile market where cash is king.

We have discussed the challenges that finance offices are facing today and how ready they are for the transformation that is awaiting them with Alok Ajmera, President and Chief Executive Officer at Prophix.

Top Tech Trends
  • Prophix is a leading global finance performance platform for mid-market businesses. Can you explain to us what a “finance performance platform” does and how it helps companies achieve their business objectives and strategic goals?

Sure, financial performance platforms provide real-time access to data and automate manual processes all in one place to help companies predict and forecast variables more quicker. Financial performance platforms deliver planning, budgeting, reporting, forecasting, and consolidation solutions in an integrated and cloud-based platform. With the help of these platforms, finance leaders can drastically reduce budgeting time, improve profitability and minimize risk to put time back into what matters most – uncovering business opportunities.

  • Prophix recently shared new data from its 2023 Finance Leaders Survey, which queried more than 700 global senior-level finance professionals across multiple industries. What have been the top tech trends among finance leaders over the last few years since COVID according to your survey findings?

Finance leaders are understandably concerned about the current economic climate and are looking for ways to do more with less. That said, there is still a substantial focus on innovating within the finance department. Finance leaders are focused on elevating the finance department to a more advisory, predictive and agile role. We know that automation and AI are essential for the future of finance – and we found that there is a substantial upward trend in expected investment in technology over the next three years than in previous years. Respondents said they planned to invest more in AI and machine learning, financial planning & analysis (FP&A) resources and training, improved scenario planning capabilities, and cybersecurity, with over 20% listing cybersecurity as a leading investment priority.

Ultimately, the results of our survey show that most finance departments are planning for the immediate future while developing a vision to increase efficiency and capabilities for the next few years.

  • Do you think finance professionals are better prepared than in previous years to overcome the unprecedented business and economic challenges of the day or are they still performing below their financial targets post-Covid?

Overall, the sentiment is very optimistic. Despite the stop-and-go nature of getting back to business after the initial lull during the quarantine stage of the pandemic, only 7% of finance leaders said their business was performing below their target for 2022, while 43% said they were above target and 17% well above target.

  • What are the most important challenges finance offices face in today’s volatile market?

Companies are dealing with a lot right now, from global supply chain disruptions to hiring difficulties to rising inflation rates. According to our survey, the top three external pressures our respondents identified are all economic. Coming in at number one was inflation, with 21% of respondents identifying it as their top concern. Second was rising energy prices (14%), with fears of recession (11%) following behind.

  • Automation and Artificial Intelligence are essential for the future of finance for sure but are the finance leaders ready for this transformation?

From our survey, we know that finance leaders understand automation is an important part of strategically transforming their business – 41% said this was a top goal for their automation initiatives. Automation can also help finance teams free up time to focus on more high-value tasks. Despite this, we also found that finance teams have a long road ahead to getting automated. Only 27% said that their processes were over halfway automated at the time of taking the survey.

According to our survey, the top challenge in implementing automation isn’t budget but skills and training. Funding for technology, time to implement and learn, and organizational inertia were virtually tied for second place. Luckily, 65% of finance leaders do plan to be over halfway automated by the end of 2023. Despite barriers, finance leaders understand the value of automation and are actively investing in technology to get automated.

  • What do you think is the most critical finding of this survey?

I think probably the most critical finding is that 60% of organizations were performing above, or well above, their financial targets from 2022, which signals that finance professionals are better equipped to overcome unprecedented challenges than in previous years. We can equate some of this success to ongoing investments in automation and digital transformation, and we expect this trend to continue in 2023 and beyond. Most of our respondents said they expected their budgets were likely to increase in 2023 compared to 2022. 52% of respondents expected a slight increase and 24% expected a significant boost, with only 4% anticipating a decrease.

  • Could you tell us about the growth strategy of Prophix in the long term?

Prophix is continuing to be agile and responsive to market conditions, and we’re also maintaining the inspired culture and commitment to customer service that has enabled us to dominate our market in recent years. We offer a truly unique, cloud-native platform, and finance departments are only just beginning to unlock their full value. Moving forward, the finance office will be able to solve more problems, from financial operations, and consolidation & close, to advanced FP&A, all from one platform.