Does the Finance Director or CFO now Lead the Digital Strategy?

Posted 12/10/2018 by Liam Pallett

It’s not exactly a secret that historically finance directors and CFOs have had a love-hate relationship with IT, often questioning the ROI of large IT Implementation and consultancy projects. 

In recent years, there has been an increase in the amount of finance directors & CFOs who embrace the latest digitalisation and transformation strategies in order to keep pace with the way that digitalisation and competitors’ digital actions are forcing business models to evolve. 

Traditionally, the finance director or CFO role has been one that is primarily focused on the company’s finances; financial reporting, risk management, financial planning etc. However, the present-day role has evolved into a much broader remit and whilst they are still expected to take responsibility for these things, they are becoming much more involved with business strategy and new initiatives. It’s often argued that the CIO or CTO’s remit is too narrow to lead such digital transformation and thus as the finance director or CFO is the gatekeeper for each project’s finances and they’re the person who gives the overall sing off on such projects, should they be the one to lead? 

If we go back to the responsibilities and historic view on IT spend that the majority of finance directors and CFOs have had for many years, it is understandable that it may not have been valued highly, with many IT projects and initiatives simply not providing the ROI that is possible from present day technology and digitalisation. Whereas look at the role that enterprise technology plays today and how quickly the tech and capabilities have evolved, it’s no surprise that they appreciate the need for digitisation much more. It is now a much larger focus of the finance director and CFO to ensure that their business does everything possible to capitalise on the increased efficiency and of course increased revenue that digitalisation can provide. 

Moreover, out of all c-level members of a business, the CFO or Finance Director is the person that is in constant contact with business-critical data, best placed to analyse (or indeed oversee the analysis & insights interpretation) as well as assess the return on investment and long-term sustainability of new digital projects.

Whilst technology is now causing disruption enterprise-wide, specific technological advancements in things such as Machine Learning, Cloud computing, Internet of Things and Blockchain are completely changing the face of finance. This is giving the finance director or CFO an incredible opportunity to reinvent their entire finance function. For instance, as Machine Learning becomes more available to use within the business, processes can be completely automated, and this provides opportunity to expand core responsibilities of both their own role and their team’s. 

So, Finance Directors and CFOs are no longer happy to merely keep a track of their company’s finances and risks, they appreciate the impact and power that digital transformation and better use of their data can bring and are striving to be the new leader that drives their business in this exciting direction. 

RP Group are holding an East Midlands based ‘Analytics in Finance, 2018’ networking evening in November 2018 where we have a subject matter expert presenting on exactly this topic as well as our very own Information Security expert Anthony Mamos speaking about the hot topic within data at the moment that is GDPR. It would be great to see you there! You can signup using the link below - it's free to attend and breakfast is included!

Reserve your seat NOW

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