Operations Efficiency Radar by the ICV and Roland Berger

Results 2019

Every second CFO anticipates a weaker economy in 2019. The CFOs are particularly skeptical in the automotive industry as well as in plant engineering and mechanical engineering. Here, 93 and 56 percent expect a downturn. Reason: Political instability and rising interest rates.

The focus of activities in 2019 at the 74 percent of the surveyed companies will be the product portfolio. Goal: reduce costs and meet customer needs. Other important areas:

  • Prouction
  • Controlling & Finance
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Purchasing

More often than in previous years, Working Capital Management is also mentioned as a focus factor. This also emphasizes the expectation of a downturn. For 59 percent of the respondents, controlling is one of the main focuses of 2019 and is therefore cited as the central element for the tenth time. Heimo Losbichler, Chairman of the ICV Board of Directors, says: "Controlling is a key element of successful corporate governance in the upswing as well as in downturn".

Priorities in industries:

  • Automotive: Production / Working Capital Management
  • Mechanical and plant engineering: product portfolio / production / purchasing

Digitization is often mistakenly equated with automation, which every second respondent see as a threat for the corporate functions. 70 percent believe that they need to be repositioned in the way to add value to the business. Chances are considered to be high, especially for the Finance & Controlling functions.


  • Check early warning systems
  • Question priorities
  • Prepare for economic cloudiness
  • "Digitalization brings more chances for controlling than risks, and controllers should take it now so that their area remains an indispensable value generator even in the digital future" (Prof. Dr. Heimo Losbichler, ICV)

The Operation Efficiency Radar by the ICV and Roland Berger analyzes in the previous year the company plans for the coming year. The resulting levers are worked out as important decision-making aids for CFOs and heads of controlling.

The studies as a PDF download (German)

Results 2018


  • Continuing positive economic environment with increasing activities of the surveyed companies, regardless of sector and value-added stage.
  • Stable ifo business climate index
  • Economic expectations of participants: mostly high or on the upswing
  • The number of planned levers for 2018 increases almost without exception in almost all industries and value-added stages
  • Focus of the lever 2018: classic efficiency for the areas of production and purchasing
  • Value added of production is the top lever 2018 (2017: product portfolio)
  • "Controlling and finance" placed in focus topics again

The special analysis on Robot Process Automation (RPA) and Artifical Intelligence (AI) shows:

  • Two-thirds of the study participants see RPA and AI as an opportunity for the company
  • Benefits especially in the core value creation area (production, product portfolio, logistics) to reduce costs and increase process efficiencies
  • However, less than half of respondents plan to use RPA / AI over the next three years


  •  Higher importance for efficiency increase in direct areas and classic purchasing levers in the coming year: definitely pushing activities there
  •  Analysis of sector-specific levers in detail: CFO Agenda 2018 is much more individualized in different industries than before 2017
  • Setting priorities: Sharpening and focusing levers for 2018 with the results of the study
  • Analyzing: Where can RPA and AI efficiency levers support and add value, even outside the production area?

Results 2017

Unexpected election results, economic and political crises, as well as the smoldering conflicts in the world, make it almost impossible for medium and long-term business planning. For this reason, companies should always be able to adapt flexibly to uncertainties. Besides there is also the fast-paced digitalization with its abrupt technology development. For companies without a suitable digital strategy, this can mean a fast turnaround. After all, the issue of digitalization has arrived into companies. 69 percent see now technological change as an opportunity, but only a quarter of them believe they are well prepared for it.

Dangerous loss of meaning of controlling and finance

„In the context of the economically and politically uncertain environment, more efficient production and an optimized product portfolio will remain the most important topics on the CFO agenda," says Roland Berger partner Oliver Knapp. "Purchasing is becoming the third most important lever in 2017."

On the other hand, controlling and finance are increasingly losing their importance. Only 33 percent of companies surveyed say that controlling is involved in the digitization projects of other companies. "This is worrying, because in case to develop innovative business models in the course of the digitization, companies need controlling more than ever - in the sense of business conscience in the company," explains Carmen Zillmer, an ICV Board Member. "Controllers in their role as "business partners of management" have the important task and opportunity to act as a qualifier."Compared to the past few years, the surveyed companies rate the topics for 2017 very differently depending on the sector. "This is a very positive development," notes Sebastian Ostermayer from Roland Berger. "Technological change affects the respective industries in different areas. In order to successfully master digitalization, different approaches are therefore required depending on the sector."

As the survey shows, companies are challenging digital change. Thus, 59 percent of the surveyed companies expect radical changes through digitization. At the same time there is great uncertainty as to how the development will change the existing business model. "Digital change cannot be tackled by general actionism," says Knapp. "Focusing on one's own industry and its challenges is the right path: the individual need for action can only be determined on the basis of analyzing the digital trends in the company's own business and a corresponding digitization strategy."