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Content We Love — What Becomes of CFOs During Digital Transformation

Technology and the CFO – A New Partnership

We live in a world that is continuously changing and advancing, largely due to the introduction of technology. Apple releases a new iPhone operating system every month, cars are self-driving and food can be delivered to your door from an app on your phone. Technology is rapidly changing the “how” of ordinary people’s everyday activities and business is beginning to reflect that.

An informative article published by Information Week discusses how technology is changing the role and duties of a typical CFO and how that differs from past expectations. The article touches on a discussion panel hosted by Sage, a technology company that provides accounting and business management software, named CFO 3.0.

The panel— comprised of various CFOs such as Jack McCullough, president of the CFO Leadership Council, and Tania Zieja, CFO for Halloran Consulting Group, among others— discussed the future of finance, especially concerning the role of the CFO in the current era of digital transformation.

One notable change panelist McCullough pointed out was the disappearance of the Chief Operating Officer role. “At one point there was something like 494 of the Fortune 500 had a chief operating officer,” McCullough said. And since the decline of the role, the CFO seems to have absorbed much of these duties— expanding the skillset required of this executive position, all thanks to technological growth.

The panelists also juxtaposed manual practices, that have since grown extinct, with their replacement automated processes. This included payroll practices centering around Excel that were replaced by integrated systems, and the ability to work remotely via cloud systems— whereas previously working remote was impossible.

But however far businesses have progressed with the aid of automation, none of the panelists shied away from the fact that changes driven by technology demands are inevitable across all businesses.

In 2019, Sage surveyed more than 500 CFOs from different industries about the future of the CFO role. When asked what effect technology had on their daily duties, around 98% of the respondents stated that their jobs had changed over the last five years. In addition, about 76% of these CFOs said they played a significant role in driving their company’s digital transformation.

Nancy Harris, the executive vice president for Sage North America, stated that the CFO role is now focused more on data interpretation and strategic thinking, rather than just bookkeeping, as it used to be.

“There’s more pressure on to provide valuable insight into the business,” Harris said. “It’s well beyond the context of just ERP, accounting, and financials.”

The era of digital transformation is only at the beginning of its dawn, and it seems that CFOs have been selected to lead the charge for businesses everywhere.

To learn more, please read the full article.

Written by: Ashton Mathai