Although the harsh effects of the pandemic on manufacturing industries cannot be overstated, CFOs deal in data, and base conclusions and decisions on empirical evidence.
To understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the sector and the profession, SYSPRO conducted a global online survey to assess CFO sentiment around this ‘black swan event’ as 2020 draws to a close and we look to a future that has been dubbed the ‘new normal’.
The evidence from this survey – presented and assessed in a detailed report – indicated that optimism amongst CFOs remained resilient.
Even more importantly, the results revealed changing investment priorities that are directly aligned with an accelerated move towards Industry 4.0.
With CFOs growing into their newly expanded role, they will have even more influence over investment decisions that focus on sustainable growth, thereby equipping their organisations to thrive in a less certain future.
A glimmer of uncertainty, but also great confidence
In the survey, almost 23% of businesses expressed fears that they would not see a return to pre-pandemic trading conditions until the second half of 2021 at the earliest, or even into 2022.
Industries that were heavily represented amongst less optimistic respondents and only foresaw a return in the second half of 2021 or later included Electronics, Metals Fabrication, Plastics and Rubber, and Automotive Parts.
However, the report found that 47% of manufacturing businesses said they had already recovered or expect to do so by the end of 2020.
A further 31% expected to return to pre-pandemic trading conditions by the end of Q2 2021.
Overall, this suggested a reasonably high level of confidence in recovery for the manufacturing industry.
CFOs will play a vital role
As part of the ongoing recovery, a stabilisation phase will be essential. This will require a renewed focus on financial controls to protect cashflow and extend enterprise runways.
Almost 83% of respondents identified cost-cutting as a strategy that they would be implementing, with restructuring roles and functions and expanding revenue models and debt collection also highlighted.
According to the report, CFOs should embrace the potential of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 to transform the finance function and become exponents of CFO 4.0.
This is because they are ideally placed to make investment and implementation decisions relating to software and systems, as well as manufacturing assets including robots and other automated plants.
An assessment of how survey respondents see their role changing both in 2021, and then 2022 and beyond, showed clear patterns that support the report’s key findings and illustrate how the CFO 4.0 role will support Industry 4.0.
Download the report
The SYSPRO Manufacturing CFO 4.0 Survey was conducted using the online self-completion Survey Monkey platform between 22 September and 20 October 2020.
Respondents included financial decision-makers (C-level executives) in Africa, APAC, the USA, Canada and Europe working in a wide range of manufacturing sectors.