For a long time, CFOs have been strategic partners at the highest levels of a company’s leadership, guiding the most important financial decisions. But, with the landscapes of several industries rapidly changing, these once traditional roles are now expected to shoulder additional, and perhaps unexpected, responsibilities. Today, more of them are also expected to guide their companies’ technology decisions.
Pushed in part by higher interest rates, macroeconomic uncertainty and the exciting yet risky possibilities of generative AI, companies must invest more carefully and strategically in technology than ever before. And a lot of CFOs are now expected to helm this position, too.
The acquisition of new technology that could change a business’ operational methodology is a potentially large financial investment. For CFOs to stay afloat, knowledge of the latest technological developments, will be necessary.
CFOs are more often expected to focus on priorities historically reserved for their boardroom and line-of-business counterparts – including increasing sales revenue, elevating customer experiences, retaining and upskilling talent, driving sustainability initiatives and strengthening cybersecurity. One of the ways that many CFOs are addressing these new challenges is by embracing the cloud.
Demonstrate your value in an expanding role
Increasingly, CFOs realize that moving their ERP systems from on premise to the cloud is no longer optional – it’s business critical. Working in the cloud is essential to keep innovating with the speed and agility these uncertain times demand. It is also the only way to unlock the true power of responsible, reliable and relevant business AI.
The good news is that most CFOs are already there. In my conversations with them, I see how the cloud helps CFOs empower their teams with automated processes, centralized finance operations and data and use AI and predictive insights to make decisions faster and more confidently. Cloud technology is proving to be a real difference-maker for companies willing to adopt it.
Take, for example, the Blue Diamond Growers cooperative. Best known for growing almonds in California, the cooperative consistently puts sustainability concerns front and center in how it operates and moves its almonds to customers. Requiring a more intelligent ERP infrastructure to support business growth in a smoother software environment, it turned to SAP for new solutions to enhance its supply chain planning activities, procurement processes and analytics capabilities.
With cloud-based, modern ERP and analytics solutions, the cooperative’s finance experts are getting deeper insights to make better decisions and have a much smoother process for financial closings. In addition, the sales teams have a more integrated view of customer orders and behavior with just a few clicks.
As a result, Blue Diamond Growers is experiencing impressive outcomes. Broker settlements have been completely rehashed, coming down to two days rather than weeks as it was before. When converting to cloud ERP, there was 54 percent lower downtime and, finally, financial closing times were 40 percent faster.
Blue Diamond Growers’ use of technology also delivered an advantage during the COVID-19 pandemic. When supply chains were severely disrupted, the cooperative quickly pivoted its supply chain to remain sustainable and help ensure its customers had the almonds they wanted on their tables in time for the Christmas season.
This is just one example of how CFOs worldwide are empowered by real-time financial insights, forward-looking guidance and having a more comprehensive view of past performance – all captured, synthesized and accessed through a single cloud environment.
The path to a competitive future
Choosing the cloud over legacy systems enables CFOs to effectively harness the power of enterprise-wide intelligence. The centralized approach empowers finance professionals to swiftly make the right adjustments that open the door to new markets, help create more customer-engaging commercial models and provide more diversified products and service portfolios.
However, these advantages are just the beginning. CFOs are also impressed with the capabilities of the cloud, which surpass those of their legacy systems. As a result, their organizations have more time to seek out new opportunities to improve the financial and non-financial matters of the business, allowing them to chart a path toward ongoing growth and business success.
Throughout all these changes induced, don’t forget the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting requirements. Whether it’s for an audit or to report on their progress and results to meet regulatory requirements, CFOs tell me that they are more focused on having the real-time data they need. By using a cloud solution for sustainable enterprises, many of them are making their ESG data more transparent and embedding sustainable practices into the core of their business strategy and operations.
As the cloud gives them wind at their backs, CFOs are not just meeting the new demands placed on their role. More importantly, they have the strategic tools and capabilities their companies need to navigate this uncertain environment and win.