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66% of CFOs say using AI for data analytics and business intelligence is underway at their respective organizations, followed by financial operations and processes (54%).

Chief financial officers are in a surprisingly good mood to start the year and expect companies to be using artificial intelligence (AI) most often, according to a new survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) by tax and advisory firm Grant Thorton.

It was not long ago that record inflation and rising interest rates fueled dire predictions of a recession. Now, about one-third of CFOs surveyed for the first quarter of 2024 say they are optimistic about the U.S. economy.

The 34% “very optimistic” mark is an 11-quarter high in the survey, and the 12% who are pessimistic ties a previous result for an 11-quarter low, says Grant Thorton.

Meanwhile, the survey of 273 senior U.S. finance leaders from across the industry spectrum continues to show their strong confidence in meeting their labor needs, satisfying increased demand and controlling costs.

How CFOs see teams using AI

Increasing the size and scope of AI is also top of mind with CFOs. The portion of respondents using generative artificial intelligence (AI) is at an all-time high (47%). This may be related to a jump of 10 percentage points in the portion of CFOs who say they expect their cybersecurity costs to increase, says the firm.


CFOs plan to continue increasing their spending on IT/digital transformation (55%, up from 49% in 2023 Q4) and cybersecurity (55%, up from 45% in 2023 Q4).

“In our tax service line, we are finding that while budgets may be constrained, there is an openness and even a willingness among clients to spend money on our focused processes and technologies that lead to greater efficiencies,” said Jim Wittner, national managing partner, tax growth at Grant Thorton. “That may hold true throughout other business functions as well.”

Ensuring responsible use of AI

CFOs are also gearing up to ensure their organizations use technology responsibly. Of the CFOs who are using generative AI, a record high 64% have established clearly defined acceptable use policies. In addition, 64% have defined and monitored the risks associated with this transformative technology, says Grant Thorton.

Specific findings included CFOs responding that their respective organizations are using AI for:

  • AI for data analytics and business intelligence (66%)
  • Financial operations and processes (54%)
  • Cybersecurity and risk management (47%)
  • Customer relationship management/customer experience (45%)
  • Product/service development (37%)

“Companies are using this technology internally before deploying it in customer-facing processes because it’s easier to control internally,” said Grant Thornton CFO advisory national managing principal Paul Melville. “If they roll technology out to their customers and something goes wrong, then it’s more challenging to manage.”

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