Study finds CFOs play an integral role in future-proofing manufacturing businesses

By Varushka Padayachi
Digital Manager
New research by SYSPRO reveals that the manufacturing CFO will play a critical strategic, innovative and financial role in the business moving forward.  The study, which was conducted in 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 encompassed financial leaders across both SMEs and larger enterprises, indicating that these results reflect the insights of a wide range of players in the Manufacturing and Distribution space. 

The study revealed that the disruptions caused by the pandemic played a catalytic role in the diversification of manufacturing businesses. In order to thrive, 65% of CFO respondents surveyed indicated that they have shifted expenditure into new markets, product lines and technologies.  Drilling down further, 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 
  • In order to enable the diversification of business models, 29% of CFOs indicated that they would invest further into Research and Development (R&D). 

The pandemic highlighted the importance for 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’

Securing a digital future 

When asked about future areas of investment to ensure continued success, 56% of CFO respondents indicated that they would be investing in warehouse automation, 37% of respondents confirmed that they would investigate migration to cloud-based services and 37% would be exploring SMART technologies including 3D printing, IoT, machine learning and artificial intelligence. 47% of CFOs also indicated that they will be investing in ERP to increase visibility, enhance transparency and data-driven decision making. 

Winning the war for talent 

When exploring the key reasons behind business disruptions in 2021, it comes as no surprise that 43% of respondents point to the delayed procurement of raw materials or inventory from either onshore or offshore suppliers. 

Not surprisingly, however, is that this figure is followed closely by the procurement of talent and skills, which comes in at 38%. “The pandemic highlighted the importance for 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 Mark Wilson, chief executive officer, SYSPRO EMEA&I. 

Warehouse

 Proactively managing business risks 

With increased pressures on global supply chains, survey respondents noted that the costs of inventory management 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 unsurprisingly 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. We are 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,” concludes Wilson. 

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Industrial Buyer January 2022

In the first edition of Industrial Buyer for 2022 we find out how digitalisation and automation is impacting the manufacturing industry. We also get trend savvy with important developments in the sector that you need to know about in 2022.

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