In 2022, the leadership role most likely to enable digital transformation by leveraging strategic thinking, thanks to a radical reimagining of responsibilities and focus, is that of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). According to McKinsey, finance leaders need to lean into this evolution as they are critical to helping the organisation fully realise the potential inherent within the space where digital and finance connect. The radical uncertainty of the past two years, along with the growing influence of technology within the financial space, has meant that the expertise of the CFO offers immeasurable value to the organisation over both the long and short term.
“The CFO has to be involved in digital decision making as the insights offered by this role are invaluable across multiple levels,” says Ashely Ellington, Director at Times 3 Technologies, a leading local IT company that helps businesses implement business solutions using software through Sage. “They play a key part in ensuring that the business continuously evolves and selectively adapts innovative ideas and technology.”
McKinsey found that high performance was common in organisations that focused on the adoption of digital platforms and solutions, most commonly around analytics, artificial intelligence and data visualisation. The research firm also highlighted how most organisations reported a positive return within finance departments. This underscores the value of digital transformation, and how leadership is instrumental in making this change relevant and strategic.
“Leaders play key roles in ensuring that a digital strategy is adopted in ways that simplify and future-proof the business,” says Ellington. “And this has the knock-on impact of ensuring that the organisation is capable of meeting customer expectations and staying ahead of the competition. Ultimately, any organisation that can pivot and adapt to changing market needs at speed is one that will hold onto the customer’s attention.”
The CFO is more than just a digital enabler, they are also instrumental in driving digital transformation and making this an inherent part of the culture of the organisation. A commitment to innovation and digital trickles down, and engages with people within the business. Often, finance is seen as stuck in the past within rigid structures that limit flexibility, but with the correct hand at the helm, this can change. It can also serve to highlight exactly how much value finance brings to the business across multiple silos and touchpoints.
“The digital strategy can be built around both short- and long-term cost savings to the business and the CFO is the link between the adoption and rollout of this strategy,” says Ellington. “This will ensure maximum financial returns and cost savings while the organisation is going through change. It really does show that adopting a digital strategy is not just about making quick changes to your business operation or process, it’s about leadership taking the time to better understand the current state of the organisation so that they can update transformation strategies accordingly.”
The key words here are strategy and leadership. It’s the CFO that can help executives and leadership throughout the business fully realise their traditional goals of profitability, customer growth and product improvement with digital platforms that are curated to evolve with these goals. This ensures that any digital strategy is designed to embed continuity and resiliency into the business and focuses on building a foundation that’s agile and flexible while ensuring that the company’s wellbeing remains a priority.
Times 3 Technologies, a Sage Platinum Partner, would agree as the market leader in providing companies with a solution that has achieved the highest Garter Critical Capabilities score for five years running – Sage Intacct. The solution is designed to provide core financial management tools for midsize, large and global enterprises, supporting the CFO’s strategic commitment to transformation with a toolkit that’s highly innovative and capable.