CHARLOTTE – A variety of issues and opportunities top the list among finance executives entering 2024 with artificial intelligence – no surprise here as it’s the top of mind discussion point across all business, it seems – among the hottest.

So found finance software firm AvidXchange in a recent survey of 500 leaders across middle market companies titled “2024: Anticipating Tomorrow’s Trends.”

The report highlights the findings of a September 2023 survey of 500 finance leaders at middle market companies across various industries to understand top priorities and concerns as planning begins for the year ahead.

Here are some highlights as noted by AvidXchange:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is poised to supercharge productivity and has a large presence within finance departments today, as 72% of finance leaders say they are currently using the technology. More than half of the finance leaders surveyed said they are “very comfortable” using AI technology (60%), while only 12% noted they are “hesitant” or “very uncomfortable” with AI.

Finance leaders also recognize the importance of training teammates to understand how to leverage this technology safely and effectively. Nearly half (49%) of organizations are supporting finance employees with upskilling and reskilling opportunities while 28% are providing mentorship programs amidst the AI revolution and other digital transformation efforts.

  • Remote and hybrid work options

While 80% of finance departments work in hybrid or fully remote models, organizations must still make refinements to improve operations and collaboration efforts in these working environments for the year ahead.

Inadequate technologies, including computer hardware and cloud-based software, pose a challenge for 29% of remote and hybrid finance leaders. Additionally, 19% say improper onboarding and training for digital skills creates hurdles while 31% percent of remote and hybrid finance leaders feel they have fewer opportunities for mentorship and collaboration with other employees.

  • Business analytics

Demand for financial analysis and reporting among organizational stakeholders is prompting finance teams to invest in tools that automate the reporting process, provide real-time views and simplify report building.

Data analytics is being used for a number of mission-critical uses like informing decision-making (64%), identifying fraud (59%), catching and reducing errors (56%), pinpointing opportunities to grow the business (54%) and finding money-saving opportunities (49%). Accounts payable teams are also using data analytics to analyze invoice data (75%), measure invoice and payment workflows (67%) and track purchasing patterns (60%).

  • Fraud concerns

Though 64% of financial leaders revealed their companies have strengthened security measures in 2023, organizations must remain vigilant and aware of threat actors’ constantly evolving tactics. About 57% of respondents revealed that their organization fell victim to check fraud attacks or attempts and 60% suffered from cyberattacks, including phishing attempts.

In 2024, it will be more important than ever to safeguard finance departments from threat actors, as most finance professionals reported that data protection and security (29%) and digital transformation (29%) are their department’s top priorities for the year ahead.

  • Real-time Payments (RTP)

Suppliers are expecting the same convenience and rapid payment associated with P2P payments for their businesses. As a result, in 2023, 49% of organizations have used real-time payments to pay suppliers and vendors, with 21% of them using this method most often.

This will only further intensify in 2024 as 81% of finance professionals revealed that their finance teams have seen an increase in requests from suppliers or vendors for RTP. Organizations will need to keep up with the demand for fast and secure e-payment tools to avoid the risk of losing partners.

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