chief financial officers
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According to a poll conducted by consulting firm Deloitte, 39% of Chief Financial Officers in the energy market believe technological change will be the most pressing factor for their companies in 2018.

In a poll taken from a sampling of 101 large company CFOs attending Deloitte's 21st annual CFO Vision in Washington in November, 34% chose competitive dynamics whilst 25% believe regulatory and environmental changes will be the most pressing factor for their companies this year.

Only 2% of the survey participants forecast that customer preferences will shape the direction which companies will follow.

Sanford A Cockrell, managing partner at Deloitte, commented: "It seems technology has transformed, or will transform, almost every industry represented by our clients.

"CFOs are increasingly tasked with leading strategy and change within their companies, and as these results indicate, many are already familiar with both the opportunities and challenges that rapid technological change may present."

Deloitte has identified US utility National Grid as one of the leading companies taking a proactive approach to tackling the challenge of rapid changes in technology.

According to the consulting firm, National Grid is employing innovative technologies to automate its electric, natural gas and clean energy transmission and distribution systems.

In a pilot, the utility installed more than 15,000 smart meters and reduced consumer energy bills by $200 within a period of 2 years for consumers in New YorkMassachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Peggy Smyth, CFO, National Grid US, added: "We're also looking at the electrification of transportation, and piloting new programmes to increase the adoption of electric vehicles. Moving toward technologies like this is good for our communities, good for the environment, and good for our business."

Of the 3,457 respondents who participated in the survey, 26% felt they are least prepared to integrate their current business processes with technologies including robotics automation, visualization and cognitive computing.

33% say their CEOs want them to focus on cost reduction and revenue growth. 20% of the CFOs have been tasked to focus on stakeholder relationship ahead of other aspects.