5 ways Canadian CFOs are leading digital transformation

CFOs are leading the way for their organizations’ digital transformation efforts. Our latest report, The Redefined CFO, is packed with key insights into the evolving roles of finance leaders.

Highlights from the research include:

  • 77% of Canadian CFOs are leading digital transformation in their organizations
  • 92% of CFOs believe it’s important for them to have the skills necessary to drive the adoption of new technologies
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation will be crucial technologies for organizations to integrate
  • 81% of finance leaders are responsible for strategy and future planning

It’s time to take a closer look at some of the ways Canadian finance leaders are bringing their organizations up to speed. Let’s jump in.

  1. Accepting responsibility as change-makers

This ever-evolving world calls for new kinds of leadership. CFOs need to adapt and be able to deliver strategies driven by purpose, all while staying flexible enough to embrace digitization and the ways of working it supports.

81% of CFOs say their responsibilities now include strategy and future planning.

Our report has revealed that CFOs are, now more than ever, building non-traditional skills to help them navigate complex, technologically enabled industries. These skills include:

  • Strategy and future planning (81%)
  • Approving projects within their business unit (78%)
  • Digital transformation (77%)
  • Data and cybersecurity (77%) and
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) decisions (77%).


  1. Embracing emerging technologies

Digital transformation is essential for businesses and CFOs looking to achieve the agility and scalability they need to thrive in today’s landscape.

According to the report, integrating emerging technologies is the top priority for Canadian finance leaders, with a quarter of you stating that it’s your organization’s top priority after increasing sales and revenue. This comes in ahead of developing new products and services (13%) and enhancing sustainability programs (10%).

Canadian finance leaders said their level of responsibility has increased over the last 12 months in a range of areas.

Canadian finance leaders say their level of responsibility has increased over the last 12 months, across a range of areas.

CFOs are having to keep more plates spinning than ever before, which means they need more ways to work smarter, not harder.

Read related article: The 3 types of CFO you could be, according to a new Sage report


  1. Recognizing that digitalization is the future

There’s a big difference between digitization and digitalization, and successful CFOs understand how that difference is central to building a thriving business.

Technological prowess combined with human ingenuity will enable CFOs to both influence company strategy and build deep resilience.

Digitization is the conversion of analog to digital, such as switching a manual ledger to Excel.

Digitalization, on the other hand, is how digital technologies and digitized data impacts how work gets done. It’s about the ways tech transforms how customers and companies engage and interact, and creates new revenue streams. It’s the process of creating a space for digital business to happen, where information is flowing freely at the core of the business.


  1. Making big plans for emerging tech

Technology and what it can do for an organization is a top priority for CFOs today, according to our research.

Finance leaders understand that their sphere is stepping into a new era, one where a combination of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) takes organizations to the next level.

Redefined CFOs’ new techniques—such as predictive analytics—to drive digital transformation to new frontiers of capabilities.

A quarter of you say that integrating emerging technologies is your organization’s top priority.

More than half of you (51%) say your organization has made progress when it comes to entering the metaverse (where digital and physical lives converge). And 38% of you say your organization is planning to start accepting cryptocurrency as payment within the next 12 months—with platforms such as Sage Intacct in place to support that.


  1. Recruiting talent to drive digital transformation

So what’s holding CFOs back right now?  Finding and keeping employees with the new and emerging skills they need is a major concern according to our report. This talent deficit can, in turn, hamper finance leaders’ ability to make the most of the rich opportunities presented by new technologies.

The Redefined CFO understands how Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and automation will all be crucial technologies to integrate into their organizations.

58% of finance leaders in Canada say their organizations are prepared for hiring new and retaining existing talent.

For example, the rise of big data and the advancement in AI in financial software has led 40% of organizations to look for candidates with deep data and AI expertise, with plans to increase their financial training.

In the report, 58% of you say your organizations are ready to hire new talent, and working on retaining existing talent—higher than the US (47%) or UK (45%).


Final thoughts

 To meet the demands of today’s business landscape, Canadian CFOs aren’t just ready to accept change, but embracing it.

From diversifying their expertise and hiring the right people to making sure they take advantage of emerging technologies, there are so many ways that you can keep your organization ahead of the curve. It’s just a matter of deciding where to start.

Watch this space for more articles discussing the Sage Canada report The Redefined CFO.


Research methodology behind The Redefined CFO report includes interviews with 1900 finance leaders (500 from Canada) conducted by Sage in early 2022. These finance leaders work in organizations across a variety of sectors including retail, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, technology, non-profit, and professional services that have annual revenue of at least $5 million and employ less than 1000 people.