The increasing pace and proliferation of data across the business landscape are changing the nature of finance.
To remain relevant in this scenario, chief financial officers (CFOs) need to start filling the role of ‘economic guardians’, providing insight and direction and measuring business outcomes while continuing to manage stiff competition and growing customer demands.
CFOs are moving to the front line of the business as finance’s function continues to shift. Rather than simply number crunching and running reports, CFOs are expected to work hand-in-hand with the C-suite and other stakeholders to understand how the organisation can use its resources to meet customer needs.
With the data now available at their fingertips, CFOs have insight into business performance and the levers that all other functions can implement to improve outcomes. CFOs are, therefore, increasingly providing support to other C-suite members in strategic decision-making – not only assisting with the numbers but also with the daily operations of HR and technology.
Many enterprises are investing in digital transformation, and CFOs should be nominated for the role of digital champion. CFOs can assist in the transition to the digital world by ensuring the organisation’s investments are sustainable, and its expected outcomes are realistic.
With the data they have access to, CFOs can also assess whether digital projects like artificial intelligence, cloud, and enterprise applications will deliver sufficient returns to justify their cost. They can help interpret what factors like productivity targets or customer acquisition would mean in terms of financial outcomes.
To take on these roles, CFOs will need to have access to the data and tools required to streamline the way they work. While they’re well placed to initiate and push change, CFOs might not be able to deliver on these expectations without the time or support from other business functions that may not understand the positive input finance can offer.
More than compliance
Regulatory compliance demands are growing, and CFOs are spending a lot of time on statutory reporting requirements.
Therefore, they need tools that allow them to generate financial statements and automate statutory reporting. It will enable them to focus on other areas of the business and add value.
As part of digital transformation, CFOs should be considering solutions to automate repetitive tasks and provide quick and simple access to real-time financial data. Not only will these tools help ensure compliance, but they will allow better access to financial and operational data. This, in turn, will assist with functions such as automated alerts and scenario planning.
From start-ups to large companies, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS), technology empowers leaders to drive change like never before. With such tech-enabled solutions, they can modernise processes and systems at reduced risk and cost with instant access to the information they need at any time.
Data empowers CFOs to support the business by ensuring strategies make sense, and that investment is correctly allocated. Undoubtedly, in the current economic climate, doing so is crucial to the very survival of the business.
By Pieter Bensch, Executive Vice-President at Sage Africa & Middle East