A new generation of tech-savvy CFOs is helping businesses better understand and integrate technology into their operations.
It’s another evolutionary step for CFOs. Finance chiefs were once more focused on back-office operations. Slowly, they began to take on more responsibility, such as oversight of information technology, which included systems and cybersecurity knowledge. Today’s top CFOs are thinking about technology in a more strategic, external sense.
“You can’t really separate the technology conversation from the business conversation today,” said David Axson, a managing director of Accenture Strategy’s CFO & Enterprise Value group. “In the old days, you could, because the software sat on mainframes in a data centre. You could draw a line between where the computers stopped and the business started. Now you can’t.”
CFOs see examples of technology all around them, Axson said. They use ride-hailing services on their phone to save time and money when travelling. They see traditional brick-and-mortar retailers focusing more on online sales – or they see those slower to react going out of business. They understand the value in not only keeping up but also staying ahead of the competition.
“If you’re a good CFO, you’re going to sit down [with management] and say, ‘Look, we’re behind where we need to be,’ ” Axson said. “‘And here’s why this is the case. Let me tell you what our peers are doing and what we’re doing.’”
CFOs are, to borrow a phrase from a recent Accenture report, becoming digital apostles. They’re seeing value in digital initiatives: 67% have improved their forecast accuracy, according to the report, and 66% report better decision-making.
Outside of finance, the digital transformation is critical for the CFO role itself and for corporate stakeholders seeking more insight.