The next-gen CFOs: Piloting the next normal with multi-skill outlook
Many businesses were caught off guard during the COVID-19 outbreak that made governments across the world impose stringent lockdown. This required enterprise leaders to develop expertise, resilience, and ingenuity to handle the ‘unprecedented’ crisis, emerging victorious and unscathed.
Take BMW’s example. Amid constraints and lockdowns during the first boom, the share price of luxury automakers crashed. But the company’s successful program that was led by its CFO was enforced for many years and stayed essential to stabilizing the business. The software helped find efficiencies and optimize its data to bring the company back into the driver’s seat.
CFOs are now critical players in navigating their businesses in an unpredictable world, according to a ‘Global CFO Survey 2020’ conducted by Everest Group and sponsored by WNS. The evolution of CFOs as strategic business leaders of future-ready organizations is a given norm in the current market scenario. But what does it take to become a CFO that is meant for the future? There is no instant success recipe but wearing several hats around the company will gradually see them move towards facilitating a multi-skill outlook.
The Everest survey showed that shortly, 47 percent of CFOs are uncertain about committing to technology investments. However, in the new standard, it will be imperative to view industry, challenges, and transformation through a digital lens. This includes substantial investments in the right technologies, including artificial intelligence, automation, analytics, and cloud, allowing CFOs to recognize, and forecast operational drivers and act as strategic business leaders.
Solutions such as Quote-to-Sustain (QtS) also help re-imagine conventional operations to deliver sustainable growth by incorporating technology and workflows underpinned by analytics and automation.
According to the Everest survey, the pace of decision-making is a distinguishing characteristic of a potential company. Data remains a core element of this requirement and hiring managed IT services becomes critical in making the management of end-to-end data a primary priority for CFOs. To allow a data-driven community, solutions such as Financial Intelligence in a Box (FIAB) are leveraged by the CFOs to analyze all forms of data, including unstructured and transactional.
For many CFOs, the next normal implies losing out on some of the significance of having historical evidence. This means many efforts are made to retain the true essence of historical data, especially for the critical reporting areas that overlap with the technology implementation in the longer run. Therefore, identifying the true value of information is essential, coupled with the real-time data about how things are trending in our company.
Navigating the future roadmap will also involve pivoting the investment for real-time data that help CFOs creating insights. This will help companies adapt to changing customer expectations without waiting for historical financials to be pulled together by accountants. The historical transactional aspect of finance is a product that must not be perceived for immediate success, instead, considered as the right investment to drive competitive advantage in the longer run.
Modern IT solutions are already considering real-time data and real-time analytics as a part of CFO investment. For instance, some sensors need to act in real-time or as close as possible so that the data source can drive streaming analytics wherever possible while being relevant to the critical business challenges.
This is also reflected in our survey, in which the goal most cited by CFOs as number one for their finance feature was improving data and analytics capabilities to improve forecasting, financial reporting and understanding of value drivers.
Digital Transformation Leader
The future CFO’s role as a data arbiter transcends the funding mechanism to include both – the whole company and strategic ecosystem partners. CFOs would then coordinate digital transformation by determining each project’s economic viability and analyzing the cross-functional data to improve payback from it.
For instance, their CFO’s leadership, French retailer Carrefour unveiled the wheels of digital transformation in 2018. The business concentrated on developing and improving its online and home services, taking advantage of the early retail innovations. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, expandFORCE rapidly addressed the supply chain issues, ensuring its customer’s and workers’ safety and health.
CFOs are stepping into new territories even as the disruption of the pandemic appears to be relentless. They lead their organizations through an ‘unprecedented’ crisis with foresight and vision while altering the potential odds.