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Research reveals CFO 4.0 instrumental in building the factory of the future

By Ryan Morris-Reade, Thu 25 Nov 2021

SYSPRO, a global provider of ERP software, has announced new research into CFO 4.0, revealing that manufacturing chief financial officers (CFO's) will play a critical strategic, innovative and financial role in the business moving forward.  

The study, conducted from July to September 2021 and led by SYSPRO, assessed the sentiment amongst senior-level chief financial officers within manufacturing sectors across the Americas, APAC and EMEA. The participants were financial leaders across both SMEs and larger enterprises. SYSPRO says this shows the results reflect the insights of a wide range of players in the manufacturing and distribution space.

The diversification of business operations

The study found the disruptions caused by the pandemic played a huge role in the diversification of manufacturing businesses. 

Sixty-five percent of the CFO respondents surveyed say in order to thrive, they have shifted expenditure into new markets, product lines and technologies.  

The SYSPRO survey found:

  • 33% of businesses expanded into new markets
  • 29% of businesses innovated through the introduction of a new production line
  • 39% of businesses will explore new routes to markets such as eCommerce channels
  • To enable the diversification of business models, 29% of CFOs indicated that they would invest further into R&D.

Building and securing a digital future

When asked about future investment areas to ensure continued success, 56% of CFO respondents say they would invest in warehouse automation, 37% of respondents would investigate migration to cloud-based services, and 37% would explore SMART technologies, including 3D printing, IoT, and machine learning and AI. 

Forty-seven percent of CFOs also indicated that they would be investing in ERP to increase visibility, enhance transparency and data-driven decision-making. 

Winning the war for talent

The survey explored the critical reasons behind business disruptions in 2021. It found that 43% of respondents point to the delayed procurement of raw materials or inventory from either onshore or offshore suppliers.

However, it found this figure is followed closely by the procurement of talent and skills, which comes in at 38%. The pandemic highlighted the importance of digitally-savvy talent as businesses continue to invest in smart technologies and automation. 

"The skills vacuum is vast, and companies have acknowledged a growing need to onboard highly specialised individuals and rapidly upskill their current staff," says SYSPRO chief financial officer for APAC, Sanjay Galal.

Proactively managing business risks

With increased pressures on global supply chains, survey respondents noted that inventory management costs have the potential to rise to unforeseeable levels. When asked about top business risks for 2022, 40% of CFOs highlighted the management of rising inventory costs, 36% of respondents were concerned about managing cash flow, and 35% pointed to the management of local and global supply chains.

"While the pandemic continues to have an impact on the global road to recovery, it has also allowed businesses to shift operations and adapt," says SYSPRO CEO, Asia Pacific, Rob Stummer.

"We're seeing the industry explore new territories, expand production lines and evolve business models. The CFO has been an instrumental catalyst in these shifts and is evolving the face of manufacturing as we know it."

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