Skip to Main Content
Access your saved content
Rapid technological change and economic volatility, more empowered consumers and employees, and more active government intervention have combined to disrupt traditional business models worldwide.
To manage this disruption and find new ways to achieve sustainable, profitable growth, chief financial officers (CFOs) of leading organizations must identify and invest in business transformation initiatives.
A new survey of 930 CFOs across Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Latin America and North America by Oracle and Accenture to understand how finance executives are leveraging their growing influence revealed surprising results: The CFO's role is becoming more strategic and influential, but there are challenges to their ability to be the key catalyst of change across the enterprise.
To become an effective change agent requires CFOs to demonstrate strong leadership, commercial and strategic insight, and the ability to overcome organizational resistance.
Download a copy of the complete report.
As the CFO's role becomes more strategic and influential, the tools and structures that served finance leaders well in the past may no longer work so well. Cost levers that used to be effective are becoming less so as margins become squeezed and incremental operational efficiencies are harder to uncover.
Volatility makes it more challenging to set priorities and plan for future investments, requiring risk management. Complex organizational structures hamper the ability of CFOs to gain visibility into performance across the enterprise.
Disruptive technologies, such as big data, cloud computing, mobile and social media, have given rise to new forms of competition that are challenging even the most established enterprises. Many companies worry that further cuts, particularly to headcount and fixed assets, may make it more difficult for them to take advantage of growth opportunities when they emerge.
Over the past few years, managing profitability and cost, and initiatives to conserve cash and maintain working capital flow have been the top two priorities for CFOs. This focus on cost management will become increasingly difficult to maintain without recourse to emerging technologies such as cloud computing. Recognizing the critical enabling role of technology, most finance leaders are closely involved in IT investment decisions and in managing IT infrastructure.
Since the financial crisis, CFOs are increasingly expected to be strategic thinkers and business partners as well. Their broadening influence—over IT, procurement and operations as well as finance and strategy—position them well to become the catalyst for change in their organization.
Thus, the best performing finance organizations are far more likely to have advanced capabilities in six areas: finance function strategy and governance; value-centered culture; strong focus on emerging technologies; strategic planning and target setting—forecasting, reporting and analytics; and financial risk management.
Below are some of the steps that we believe CFOs must consider to assist in business transformation—overcome challenges in the operating environment and technology, and help position their business for future success:
Apply emerging technologies such as cloud and work with colleagues to drive the next generation of efficiencies in the business.
Work with business colleagues to ensure that investment and resources are allocated appropriately and at the right time.
Explore integrated business services as the next evolution in the shared services agenda.
Adopt a forward-looking approach to strategic insight and decision support through more robust use of analytics.
Take the lessons from finance transformation and use them to drive change in the broader business.
Shift the focus from maintenance of IT systems to technology innovation.
Develop a better understanding of how technology can support both the cost and growth agendas.
Collaborate with other functional areas, including marketing and HR, to ensure that technology investments enable the right business outcomes.
May 21, 2013
Skip Footer Links