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The Finance Function's Role in Innovation

In a cutthroat marketplace that demands non-stop innovation, chief financial officers are fortunate: they don’t have to reinvent themselves.

As experienced problem-solvers, their task is now to spread and support what they’ve already internalized: the need to keep generating and identifying creative solutions to meet the company’s ever-changing needs. Organizations no longer have the luxury of waiting for that classic “a-ha” or “Eureka!” moment. Innovative thinking, whether it materializes in the form of a radical product or a re-engineered process, needs to be inventoried, applied and implemented. Against a backdrop of rampant globalization and raging technological change, it falls to finance executives to impose practicality and apply methodology to the development and preservation of processes and mindsets that ensure continuous innovation.

How do they do it? A recent survey conducted by CFO Research, in collaboration with CPA firm Cherry Bekaert, explored the views of finance executives at middle-market companies—90% of which posted annual sales of between $10 million and $500 million—regarding the importance of nurturing successful innovation. The findings that follow are based on data collected from 161 financial executives, with an emphasis on three types of industries: industrial and manufacturing; healthcare services and pharmaceuticals; and high tech.

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