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How cloud technology is facilitating the CFO’s new role as business strategist

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Two-thirds of Australian CFOs believe their role is transforming – from number cruncher to business strategist, according to our recent survey.¹

It’s a statistic that reflects the increasingly apparent new mandate of the CFO and the finance team. Thrust into the limelight as a critical driver of digital transformation, the CFO is now expected to be a strategic partner who can provide foresight, direction and management of business outcomes – a right hand to the CEO if you will.

So how are leading CFOs fulfilling this new mandate to drive digital transformation? Cloud-based financial management technology is one of the key enablers, according to our research.

Seventy-two percent of organisations are already using cloud-based financial management technology, and this is only set to increase as more businesses take the plunge to transform digitally.²

Here are two major ways cloud-based financial management technology can help CFOs and their finance team make the shift from number crunching to business strategy:

1. Freeing up time with automation

Sixty-three percent of finance professionals say financial administration negatively impacts their team’s productivity³. If financial administration takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, automation could be a valuable addition to your CFO toolkit.

Our research reveals finance professionals are starting to appreciate how automation can free up their time to focus on generating greater value for the business. Thirty percent have already noticed positive improvements to business productivity as a result of automation.⁴ They spend less time on repetitive tasks and make fewer mistakes, freeing up time to be more strategic.

Take, for example, the financial close with its many steps that are open to human error and bottle necks. Automation can speed up the process and remove many opportunities for error, from account reconciliation and journal entry to the final reporting stage.

Automation can also help you manage a large volume of transactions, allowing you to relieve this pressure so you can do more with less. It also increases accuracy and reduces cycle times in steps and processes, which minimises manual work.

2. Delivering data-driven insights with business analytics

Eighty-six percent of CFOs believe they now play a larger role in complex data analytics within their organisation.⁵

With automation helping to eliminate administrative tasks, finance professionals are increasingly required to operate as quasi data scientists, learning to recognise exceptions and draw insights from data.

Many CFOs however face a significant challenge to fulfil this new data analyst role – siloed data. Critical data is trapped within departments, which means CFOs are unable to access the business-wide, consolidated view required to provide data-driven strategic and operational insights.

Sixty-four percent of CFOs we surveyed believe integrating financial and operational information has proved challenging, and 62% cite difficulties in aggregating information across the organisation.⁶

This is where cloud-based financial management technology can help – to break down data silos and accelerate the way you do business. The right technology platform can provide a consolidated view of your financial data from across the business. It can also provide the integrated business analytics functionality to deliver the data-driven insights that the new breed CFO needs to drive broader business transformation beyond financial management.

By monitoring and understanding this data, you can make better informed decisions and uncover more opportunities in areas like cost reductions, process waste removal, customer cross/up-selling, and the delivery of new products. Not only can analytics find you ways to cut budgets in the right areas, it can help you find suitable ways to expand.

With accurate, up-to-date information provided by business analytics, you can act immediately on significant events, which can help you improve and accelerate business performance (through increasing sales and improving customer service, for example).

Download our free whitepaper: CFO 3.0 – Digital Transformation beyond Financial Management

Citing the latest finance industry data and research, our whitepaper details the key trends and challenges faced by CFOs as they grapple with this new digital reality – driving digital transformation beyond the finance function.

CFO 3.0 – Digital Transformation beyond Financial Management

Download our whitepaper to learn:

  • The key trends driving the digitalisation of the finance industry
  • How and why the role of the CFO is changing
  • Why the CFO is key to driving digital transformation
  • How Millennials are influencing adoption of new technology
  • What keeps CFOs up at night – the 5 roadblocks to digital transformation
Download Whitepaper

[1] CFO 3.0 – Digital Transformation beyond Financial Management, Sage, 2019