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The changing role of the CFO

Written by Bradley Maule-ffinch, head of Connected Business portfolio, Imago Techmedia. 12th December 2013 In today’s economy, where there is a continued focus on reducing costs while increasing efficiencies, the CFO has had to become involved in more sectors of the business in order make these objectives attainable. The role of the CFO has therefore both changed and broadened over the last few years, moving...

Written by Bradley Maule-ffinch, head of Connected Business portfolio, Imago Techmedia.

12th December 2013

In today’s economy, where there is a continued focus on reducing costs while increasing efficiencies, the CFO has had to become involved in more sectors of the business in order make these objectives attainable. The role of the CFO has therefore both changed and broadened over the last few years, moving beyond financial leadership, through insight and analysis, to include more strategic support.

As a result, CFOs are driving change in business, and they are using communication and collaboration technologies to help them do it. The technology gives the CFO instant collaborative access to different parts of the business and allows him or her to engage with diverse departments and collaborate with key stakeholders wherever they are located in order to make quick progress in realigning the business and overcoming obstacles.

Communication and collaboration technologies, specifically, are affecting both the way the modern CFO fulfils his role on a day to day basis, as well as in the broader context of making the business itself more cost-effective and efficient.

In the expanding, globalised business world, these technologies are bringing workers closer together. Collaboration technologies enable colleagues to interact with each other across different locations – linking mobile workers, home workers and office-bound employees. They have the means to make conference calls, video calls, participate in focus groups, share documents and engage with one another quickly and easily.

The CFO, him or herself is also better able to connect and engage with different sections of the business – both locally and globally – to become involved in more meetings, working groups and decision-making activities. This can be done without spending excessive time commuting. From an organisation-wide perspective, the CFO is tasked with cutting costs and improving efficiencies.

This is also accomplished through the proper deployment of communication and collaboration technologies that assist in eliminating or minimising the need for travel, lowering travel budgets and streamlining operations. If there is no alternative but to travel, putting the right technologies in place also allows staff to use that time more effectively.

Business issues such as reporting have also been affected by these technologies when integrated with other enterprise software. With improved CRM and ERP solutions there is more immediacy in gaining access to information. Coupled with business intelligence capabilities and analytics software, the CFO can view and measure a range of business information from cash flow and pipelines, to money coming in and going out of the enterprise. Integration is the keyword – maintaining an overview of all of an organisation’s software and systems gives the CFO a complete, real time view of activities.

Other transformative technology trends, such as big data, cloud computing and mobile, are also influencing the way in which the CFO operates. The Gartner research further suggests that there is strong interest from CFOs in using these trends to shape business applications.

The role of the CFO will continue to evolve, as long as technology has a part to play in the organisation. For the modern CFO who operates across sites, countries and continents, technology is an enabler of this changing, more strategically orientated focus for both day to day tasks, as well as overall business operations.

Source: Director of Finance Online

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