Leading in their own way
CFOs see themselves as enterprise growth catalysts and have a clear view of their “futurist” role. Nearly half (44%) expect to be taking the lead in driving technology-enabled business model transformation within the next five years.
“Today’s best in class CFOs are strategic partners who provide business guidance as well as ensure financial stewardship. These roles will continue to be highly valued. However, the CFO of the future will have to be technologically adept to understand the value proposition of a digital transformation. A CFO can drive the agenda by leveraging technology to enhance analytics and thereby spearheading the transformation within the Finance function. They are best positioned to translate the benefits into an ROI for the CEO,” says Sujith Chandran, Senior Finance Director, The Hain Celestial Group.
But the findings also reveal that there is no “one-size-fits-all” remit for the future-ready CFO—ambitions are clearly shaped by industry priorities and the competitive landscape in which their organization operates. To fulfil their career ambitions while meeting the needs of the enterprise means finance leaders must find the right path for them.
"There was a phase when CFOs pushed more towards strategic partnerships. Those are still highly valued skillsets, but I think what will become more valued are technical skills. A CFO can drive the agenda through analytics and using technology, and they are best positioned to translate that into an ROI need to the CEO."
— Sujith Chandran
Senior Finance Director at The Hain Celestial Group
Front-to-back cultural transformation
CFOs recognize the importance of bringing the entire enterprise along on the digital transformation journey and many are taking ownership of change-management initiatives to accelerate the transition to real time. But this is no easy feat, particularly for those that are still evolving away from their traditional back-office remit.
The agile leaders (see sidebar) in our research provide valuable learnings—this group is significantly more likely to belong to organizations that have implemented cultural transformation initiatives—and they monitor their success. For example:
■ 67% (two-thirds) agile leaders are empowering internal teams by giving them greater accountability for new projects compared to 34% (one-third) of their more traditional counterparts.
■ Seven in 10 agile leaders now have performance metrics in place to measure progress on change, compared with just 15% of traditionalists.
Defining agile leaders versus traditionalists
This research reveals big differences in the business attitudes and processes of the more digitally enabled businesses and those of their more traditional counterparts.
In this analysis, we refer to these two groups as “agile leaders” and “traditionalists”:
Agile leaders are those organizations able to access 90-100% of key operational and financial performance data, and act upon the insights with immediate effect.
By contrast, traditionalists are able only to access, and act upon with immediate effect, 1-29% of key operational and financial performance data.
Remodeling with agile finance
Fast-moving disruptors to the business landscape, including technology development, industry convergence and business model evolution mean that business trajectories are becoming increasingly difficult to plot.
CFOs understand the crucial need to supply their businesses with accurate forecasting to provide a solid basis for enterprise-wide decision making. Yet even the most agile finance functions face tough challenges in their business analysis and planning work—and they are acutely aware of these difficulties. The answer will be to create and develop more agile financial planning and analysis (FP&A) capabilities, with a mandate to improve forecasting accuracy throughout the business.
New technologies are set to play a crucial role in helping finance to increase the agility of its FP&A. Again, agile leaders display higher levels of confidence in their options and this is translating into action. Almost half (45%) expect to have used blockchain to secure access to more reliable data by 2025, compared with only 27% of their traditionalist counterparts.
VP & Global Head - Cognitive Business Operations, TCS
Global Head and Managing Partner, Consulting & Services Integration TCS
Vice President & Global Head, Analytics
Global Head (Sales & Solution) – TCS Analytics & Insights
Formerly Global Head of TCS Interactive
Global Managing Partner, Finance & Shared Services Transformation, TCS