AFP Survey Finds FP&A Practitioners Are Techno-Optimists

  • By AFP Staff
  • Published: 2/7/2024
FP&A Benchmarking Survey Excerpt

Overall, FP&A practitioners view technology, data management and digital transformation as areas of opportunity and professional development, and they would eagerly apply added time and resources to those areas if they could.

Results from the 2024 AFP FP&A Benchmarking Survey: People Strategies and Development, underwritten by Workday, reflect this eagerness for technology and data, as shown in the first three charts to the left. However, in the fourth chart the data suggests only mild concern for a potential downside of enhanced technology, namely that practitioners’ jobs would become obsolete due to advances in technology such as automation and artificial intelligence.FP&A Benchmarking Survey Charts

Somewhat contradictory given this emphasis on technology skills, FP&A professionals have minimally defined plans for how they will achieve greater technology skills. When asked if they have a plan for how to increase their digital readiness, the weighted average response is a 3.0 on a 1-to-5 scale, indicating that they have a tentative plan to increase their digital readiness.FP&A Benchmarking Survey Chart

The reasons behind this optimism lie in the qualitative responses that fall into three categories:

The first category can be described as “technology will make my life better,” with typical responses such as:

  • “I think technology will help speed up the creation of reports and analysis and allow the FP&A team to do more analysis which we often can’t get to today.”
  • “Technology will augment staff and make them more efficient, not replace them.”
  • “Technology will allow for clerical tasks to be done in an automated fashion, [then] extend into some lower-level administrative tasks too (draft presentations, letters, emails, etc.). This will free up time to think, be curious, explore, experiment and learn.”

The second category can be described as “human skills cannot be replaced,” as exemplified by these quotes:

  • “While AI will assist in decision making, people are integral to getting adoption and management of the process.”
  • “There will always be a gap between technology and the complete needs of the business.”
  • “Business and strategic partnering requires person to person interaction.”
  • “Business is full of unpredictable events, irregularity, and different trends. Hence, the touch of human aspect, particularly in FP&A and Treasury, would still be required.”
  • “Tech does not trump wisdom.”

A third category is exemplified by the quote, “I can adapt.” This applies to those respondents who believe they will learn the skills to be relevant, or “work will shift to other priorities” and they will follow the opportunities.

Of course, there are also voices of concern. The blunt comment, “AI will take my job,” is a minority view. At this stage in the technology cycle, and following years of low unemployment, FP&A professionals see opportunity for themselves with unfolding AI and automation.

Action Item

Make a plan for how to improve your digital readiness. Progress is more important than perfection; do not wait to create a perfect plan or for technology to settle before taking action.

This article is an excerpt from the 2024 AFP FP&A Benchmarking Survey: People Strategies and Development, underwritten by Workday. Read the full report to learn more.

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