Accenture’s recent High Performance Finance Study – The CFO as Architect of Business Value examines the evolving role of the CFO. The study was based on a survey of 617 executives, from 28 countries, operating in 10 sectors.
Find a report summary here.
Digital technology—which may include cloud computing or software as a service (SaaS), big data and/or analytics, mobility and social media— is having a profound impact on the finance function’s performance. CFOs are uniquely poised to exploit the digital revolution, given their position at the intersection of finance, technology and strategy.
“Technology is central to the finance strategy and agenda. Organizations can’t have optimal efficiency and effectiveness without focusing on enabling technologies. In today’s world, where there’s an abundance of data, it’s particularly important that organizations raise their game in managing, analyzing and presenting data in a way that yields the greatest value for the business. And the CFO and finance function are critical to making that happen.”
-David Rowland, CFO at Accenture
Many organizations are planning to invest heavily in digital technologies over the next two years. More than one-third report a greater than 25 per cent increase in investment in cloud and software as a service. More than one-quarter report the same level of investment increase in big data and analytics, while for mobile it is 23 per cent.
CFO involvement is most likely to be in redefining the cost model of the business as new technologies are implemented. “Clearly, finance has a very significant role in identifying what data needs to be unlocked and evaluating its potential benefits,” says Jay S. Benet of Travelers. “At Travelers, we try to bring a fact based, common-sense approach to business decision making, using insight and judgment to weigh benefits against their costs.”
Given the growing value role of the CFO across the business, the CFO’s involvement in decisions touching digital should increase. “Finance often leads the way with digital technology, partly because of self-preservation,” says Peter Kelly, CFO of NXP Semiconductors. “There’s so much information you need to run your business and, at the same time, you are under constant cost pressure, so you are forced to be quite innovative to work out what is going on, and typically with reduced resources every year. So I think finance people are pretty critical to the development of systems in the company.”