The role of CFO in a technological company has evolved from a primary concentration on revenue, expenditures and financial statements to a full partnership in business decision-making. CFO input is increasingly informing overall strategy. The foundation lies in “brighter highlights” through greatly enhanced business intelligence and analytics. CFOs are actively partnering with CIOs to extend the IT infrastructure to feed near real-time insights.
To better understand the business challenges and participate in solving them, tech CFOs must master business intelligence (BI) tools and processes. They will improve financial analysis and planning — and, ultimately, business operations — with tools that harvest pertinent information from the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. They will leverage new processes to push analytics to the forefront in financial operations. And through these tools and processes, they will build a stronger financial applications infrastructure that supports the enterprise architecture.
Choosing promising new BI technologies and tools
Moving to the latest generation of technologies for analysis, integration and presentation is a priority for CFOs in an industry that prides itself on being on the leading edge, and in many cases, featuring the advantages of their own products and services. Of course, choice of tools involves a trade-off between the elegance and capability of the underlying technologies and the business functionality supported in the application logic. There is no one right answer, and careful consideration of the trade-offs against business priorities must shape evaluation, selection, tailoring and implementation.
Upside: Close to out-of-the-box support for finance business process is available.
Development of these tools is usually led by finance people to be a finance tool that comprises good core budgeting and planning.
Downside: Since the process of tailoring to specific finance functionality takes time, these underlying technologies are not the newest architectures. The trade-off is the time to implementation and the costs to tailor to your finance operations versus the enhanced performance and usability, and lower operational costs of the latest architectures (think cloud, AI, blockchain).
Upside: Short lead time to use with best practices can return early results in finance functionality.
Downside: The two issues are the potential need to replatform the functionality over time to take advantage of new architectures, and lack of access to the latest analytical and presentation capabilities.
Implementing new BI processes to leverage tech and tools
BI technology and tools free up tech CFOs to move their focus from pure financial reporting to more integrated business operations analysis. To perform the analysis, they are implementing new processes.
The challenge for the chosen processes is getting the infrastructure in place and keeping it updated at the same pace as company growth. That pace of growth — organic or M&A — requires rapid scaling. It means that CFOs must deal constantly with a sharp S-curve, working and reworking the functional and architectural capabilities. The CFO’s contribution is valued on effectiveness at the growth stage. Then, as the pace plateaus, value is in profitability, a combination of effectiveness and efficiency. At the plateau stage, the objective is making the infrastructure as efficient as possible.
Effectiveness: Gaining insights from use of analytical tools
Efficiency: Gaining economies in leveraging tools within the processes
A significant process to consider is a change in the operating model. The decision is less about tools and more about the environment, e.g., on-premises, as-a-service or in the cloud.
In their transforming role, tech CFOs are building the infrastructure over the next several months and, at the same time, helping leadership prepare for the coming years.
National Managing Director
Technology Industry Practice
+1 703 637 2830
Digital Transformation Services
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