In the first of a series of CFO surveys, accountancy and business advisory firm BDO surveyed 200 CFOs and Financial Directors across the UK to understand how important automation is to their business.
The report, New Economy: Investing in Automation, shows that senior leaders across the country expect automation to be pivotal to their businesses and employees’ development in the coming year. 87% have automated a key business process during the last year and nearly one in five (18%) CFOs view automation as their most important investment priority during the next five year. This is ranked higher than office and infrastructure (15%), mergers and acquisitions (0%). It is only investment in people (33%) and organic growth (33%) that ranks higher.
Professional services firms are among the biggest investors in automation, dedicating on average 12% of company spend towards implementing automated processes in the last year. This is ahead of the national average of 9%. In all, 88% of professional services companies have automated all or part of a key process in the past year.
18% of CFOs and FDs in the professional services industry say that automation is the biggest priority for the business in the next five years, ranking it alongside M&A and ahead of office and general infrastructure investment.
Firms are also investing heavily in training. 45% of CFOs and FDs agree that automation has led to an increase in spend on training, ahead of the 39% national average. Senior leaders feel that workers need to be trained up with developed skillsets to be equipped to use the new technology to complement their role.
In terms of an impact on jobs, professional services firms are relatively relaxed, with over half (55%) feeling it will have no change on jobs in their business. Going further, 55% also feel that automation represents an opportunity for their business, compared to 9% who think it is a threat.