The role of the CFO has changed.
It’s no longer just about counting money in, counting money out, and just saying ‘no’ to everything.
In the wake of digital transformation, us finance professionals have shifted to become the custodians of transformation in our businesses. In the drive to capitalise on sources of revenue, we’re now often saying yes, not no. We are business architects playing offense. And our colleagues are increasingly turning to us to discover how to drive value, where to cut our own path, and when to rely on the experts.
It’s a huge responsibility, and there are massive benefits for those that get it right.
For those that don’t adapt, however, the prospects are sobering. Sticking with the status quo means slowing down – and becoming just a cog in a broader ecosystem, rather than leading it.
So how should you grow and scale? What are the models of the future – and how can we as CFO’s optimize new and existing systems to grow cost effectively?
In my opinion, four things are essential.
Understand your tech debt
The first point is to understand your tech debt.
Put simply, do you understand your tech assets and the opportunities and liabilities they present? Have you done the inventory of your tech debt in the business?
Many businesses have not – or have only done it partially.
The main reason it’s so important is, put simply, that financial and manufacturing businesses are struggling under the weight of their tech budgets. Competitors that start from scratch can provide better infrastructure at a fraction of the cost – offering consumers a better experience that will gain their buy-in.
So, understanding where you are now is a crucial starting point to working out where to go next, what to cut, what to add; how long it will take, and what it might cost – or save.
One thing’s for sure. A lack of innovation is stalling success. If you don’t take the first steps to adapt now, you’ll lose business to those who do.
Untangle legacy systems
Point two is untangling legacy systems – integrating advance tech matters but this doesn’t mean throwing everything out and starting again.
Rather, it’s a question of conserving ROI: making existing tools work better where possible and investing in new systems that streamline existing work. Workflows are a critical part of the toolbox here.
The fact is, existing systems as they stand are costing you time and money. Velocity is what you need to stay ahead in this era of rapid change.
The more you can streamline – and the more you can retain and re-invest – the more likely your business will be front of the pack as we shift towards a future of non-linear business
Create the infrastructure to own your customer relationship
Success relies on creating the infrastructure and the pipes to own entire customer relationships: removing middlemen and harnessing the value in having a direct relationship with your customers and ecosystem. New models in SaaS such as consumption and subscription based have been emerging, and other industries have followed suit; with models such as direct to consumer, omni-channel distributions, and digital native brands going to brick-and-mortar taking the lead. The aim? To create more intimate relationships and experiences with customers that will build trust.
So if you’re not already, it’s time to build the infrastructure you need to create a direct link to your customers - and also from a finance and enablement standpoint. But don’t forget that gathering the necessary information needed to nurture those relationships is an important piece of the puzzle, too.
Remember – if you’re doing it all yourself, you’re doing it wrong
It’s important for businesses to learn what they can from the challenges they face. And there’s a place for learning by doing.
But there’s a difference between doing something and doing something right.
Many businesses that set out to create their own software to solve problems end up creating monsters, cobbling the best parts of different ecosystems together and… doing nothing well.
For example, today you don’t see every business trying to build their own best-in-class employee expenses platform from scratch. Of course – as they aren’t experts in doing so - they buy it off the shelf. The same applies across the board.
It’s worth noting here that investment is more than just about the amount, it’s about investing in the right way – with the right tools and software that will make a real difference and give you scalability.
And as us CFO’s become more future-orientated – looking years ahead, rather than just a quarter – this is increasingly important. Squeezing value on a quarter-by-quarter basis just won’t cut it if you’re looking to articulate scalable enablement.
The answer is to create solutions that really stand the test of time.
Creating truly resilient businesses with ServiceNow
ServiceNow is this kind of solution.
It’s a platform of platforms that provides the abstraction layer between you and your legacy architecture, allowing you to use existing tools and conserve ROI where it counts, make smarter investments that bring real returns, and focus on the right types of digitisation that will help make your business more resilient – and ready for the future.