High-level decision makers in finance are experiencing increased pressure to adopt a leadership role, and help their organisations navigate the murky waters of the ongoing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and tough economic times.
There’s no doubt that Covid-19 saw customer behaviour and needs shift on a fundamental level, and business operations needed to evolve alongside them, seeing customers, partners and staff all move into an online world. The transition happened practically overnight and resulted in permanent changes to the way we work, as well as an unsettling level of unpredictability in the market.
Research dubbed “The Digital CFO” by leader in cloud-based financial and accounting software, Sage, revealed that today’s new reality is forcing the chief financial officer role to reinvent itself, from using the figures to report on what is, leaders in finance now need to be strategic storytellers who are able to turn data into compelling accounts that interpret trends in time to predict the future of their organisations with accuracy and agility. And if the past few years have proven anything, it’s that leaders in finance have what it takes to make this transition. This was highlighted by the fact that a whopping 92% of those surveyed believe they are now held in higher esteem by their board members.
Concurrently, stakeholders in the business are looking to finance leaders more and more to help their businesses manage ongoing change with accurate, relevant and reliable insights that shine the spotlight on the opportunities, and lessen any business risk. This is seeing finance leaders become experts in digital transformation to meet these expectations, and with the right tech at their disposal build finance teams that are future-proofed for sustainable success, irrespective of any changes that might happen down the line.
The Sage research also revealed that CFOs are practically unanimous when it comes to the rapid and significant increase in both the complexity and volume of their role. As a reaction to the tumultuous times driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders, owners and other shareholders expect much more of their CFOs today than they did in the past. Concurrently, leaders in finance are also eager to play more of a role when it comes to determining and developing business strategies that are more innovative and sustainable, and have already shown great capabilities in this respect.
However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing, and waves of volatility and uncertainty are still battering the market, which is also beset by large volumes of data. Finance teams find themselves overwhelmed, experiencing not only data overload but data fatigue as they laboriously sift through information manually. Moreover, by the time this arduous task is done, the data has passed its shelf life and is no longer relevant.
For this reason, respondents said that one of their top three priorities is gaining quicker access to meaningful insights from financial data is one of their top three priorities. At the same time, they understand that without better financial technology, their ability to forecast revenue and efforts to support remote working and turn data into communicable and strategically relevant information are fruitless.
The triumphant reinvention of the CFO’s role from bean counter to strategic, compelling storyteller goes hand in hand with digital empowerment
With this in mind, unsurprisingly, digital transformation and digitisation are still high up on the CFO’s agenda, with a strong emphasis on bringing cloud-based financial software into the business. The research revealed that it isn’t only current cloud users who are expressing enthusiasm for the cloud, but those who are galvanising to make the change. Finance teams who are still using legacy and on-premises software systems are painfully aware that they are losing any competitive edge, and risk being left behind. They are looking for the relevant solutions, such as automation, that can help them manage the more onerous, repetitive tasks, such as data input, and at the same time give them the robust cyber security solutions they need, and analyse data in real-time for instant, actionable insights.
Those leaders in finance who are forward-thinking enough to realise how much they depend on their teams to help them achieve their finance goals are going to great lengths to make sure their teams enjoy a seamless digital transition by providing critical upskilling and training support.
The triumphant reinvention of the CFO’s role from bean counter and number cruncher to strategic, compelling storyteller goes hand in hand with digital empowerment, and they all know it.
About The Digital CFO
As a leader in cloud-based financial and accounting software in South Africa, Sage identified a need to connect with the finance community and share insights during a time of significant and accelerated change to unpack how the finance leadership role has evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 313 senior finance professionals from businesses with 50 to 5 000 employees were interviewed during August 2021 to help finance leaders better understand the key shifts in their roles and responsibilities – and how their peers are navigating the changing landscape. The aim of this research is to provide senior financial decision makers and CFOs with strategic and relevant insights that support their role reinvention as they adjust to a digitised working world.
- This promoted content was paid for by the party concerned