The transformation of tradition
CEOs increasingly are turning to their CFOs to sponsor critical digital-transformation investments while they navigate accelerating change. As a result, the role of Communications and Media CFOs has changed dramatically from an accounting-based position, to one of transformation. CFOs are sponsoring critical new digital investments in everything from customer experience to joint ventures and acquisitions.
Changes to the industry are driving the shift, from increasing customer demands for more bandwidth at a competitive price, to opportunities to monetize content.
With a digital lens, CFOs are looking at their operations with a critical eye, rethinking their model. Many are currently focused on transforming how they manage risk, using digital tools.
To succeed beyond the short term, CFOs are reinventing their own finance function via automation and hiring digital talent.
Artificial Intelligence and automation change everything
Finance leaders are embracing new leading practices and emerging technologies with more focus on business analytics, integrated business reporting and planning, and shared services.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) are now mainstream. Routine accounting work, such as transaction processing, document matching, account reconciliation, statutory reporting and exception analysis, can be handed off to virtual accountants who never take time off. As the repetitive low-value work is offloaded to 24/7 bots, the core finance team can better focus on driving value.
As machines take over traditional number-crunching, CFOs are searching for talent in analytic thinking and decision support. Communications and Media CFOs are more likely than their peers in any other industry sector to be prioritizing the recruitment and development of Finance staff. Thirty-eight percent consider the ability to find, develop and place Finance talent as one of their three most important skills.
Three priorities emerge
“Progress has been made,” says Eric Noren, managing director of Accenture’s CFO and Enterprise Value consulting for the Communications and Media industry. “CFOs are focused on sponsoring strategic decisions and real-time monitoring that provides the means to identify emerging risks and opportunities much more quickly than in the past. However, technology is just one part of the story. To make full use of analytics, CFOs must solve the talent problem, equipping their functions with the capabilities required to drive change.”
In this environment, we believe Communications and Media CFOs need to embrace three priorities:
- Serve as the Innovator and a Disruptor. Harness data to unleash new value and integration across the C-Suite. Business analytics, enterprise-wide risk management, and scenario planning form a core element of the Finance team’s data-driven capabilities in the future. CFO focus on critical business outcomes and economics is critical.
- Focus on hiring and retaining the right talent. Finding top Finance talent will continue to be difficult. In the very near future, data interpretation and analytic thinking will be a core finance skill. CFOs need to focus on optimizing how staff are hired, utilized, and upskilled. In many cases, it will make sense to outsource or automate work to free up the next generation of talent.
- Continue to drive investment in process simplification and automation. Technologies like RPA, blockchain, and cloud ERP systems provide unprecedented opportunities to shift the work from low-value transaction processing to high-value decision support activities.