Traditionally, it wouldn’t be a mistake to think of a CFO as a keeper of history, accurately recording an organization’s past. However, today’s CFOs have more responsibility than managing financial transactions and producing reports that explain where a company has been. Today’s CFOs are asked to look to the future. They’re asked to be more strategic so they can define the path forward and serve as a guide in order to maximize results. We’re getting to a point where the future role of the CFO resembles that of a data scientist more so than an accountant.
As with most notable transitions related to an industry or role, technology is rising to support this strategic shift. The real value of this technology is in enabling CFOs to analyze data in more meaningful ways. Built for the cloud, solutions are architected from the ground up to capture more than traditional accounting transactions. They capture a broad set of financial and non-financial data and present insights via modern real-time dashboards. These dashboards may have KPIs, charts, reports, lists and even social feeds for analyzing the most important metrics to an organization’s success.
Of course, all this insight is worthless if the CFO is mired in daily accounting operations and can’t get free to analyze the business. CFOs adopt cloud solutions knowing they’ll see the monthly close process continuously shrink, freeing up hours, days or even weeks of time.
This helps create efficiencies, which is how we’re seeing AI solutions emerge. For example, AI solutions on Slack tend to help users, including CFOs, sift through the information overload that’s part of corporate communications platforms or automate tedious tasks like comparing multiple calendars to find a good time for a conference call. This trend means CFOs can spend more time focused on the organization’s future, analyzing potential growth strategies or proactively engaging in business development. Ultimately, the nimble CFO will act more as a trusted financial advisor rather than just the keeper of the books, just as any employee becomes more strategic when they rise above tedious (but necessary) tasks. Speaking of the future, this is where technology will play a major role to push CFOs to their next evolution. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have the potential to completely revolutionize financial software and, as a result, the role of the CFO. These solutions are just beginning to emerge.