The Future of the Digital CFO (Part 1): Being an Architect of Value, Strategy & Resilience

Dan Rogney

Bookkeepers. Number crunchers. Financial stewards. Until recently, the scope of a CFO’s responsibilities didn’t stray far from the realm of accounting, financial forecasting and risk management.  

Today, however — much like Netflix has long outgrown its DVD rental roots and Amazon has evolved from online book seller to e-commerce behemoth — the new Office of the CFO has a much broader and diverse set of goals and expectations.

Not only do modern CFOs have a closer partnership with their c-suite colleagues, they’re now the ones often expected to be the lead strategic decision-maker for issues such as business growth and value generation, digital innovation, ESG and compliance efforts, and even talent acquisition and development.

How did we get here?

Challenges fueling change

The purview of CFOs has been expanding for decades now, but it wasn’t until the last 4-5 years that business and operating dynamics drastically changed thanks in large part to the onset of the global pandemic and its continued impact to present day.

The following are some of the biggest challenges fueling these new expectations for the Office of the CFO:

  • Proliferation of new technologies (automation, generative AI, etc.) that are rapidly reshaping the future of IT and business
  • Increased need for data security and compliance, as digital acceleration continues and new regulations are enacted
  • Difficulties in retaining employees and hiring top talent, as their priorities and expectations continue to change
  • External factors such as inflation, interest rates and supply chain disruptions impacting budgeting and forecasting activities 
  • Fears of looming economic and environmental disruptions

CFOs as architects

To face and overcome these challenges, It is incumbent on CFOs to identify and embrace their newly expanding roles within the enterprise — becoming leaders beyond the balance sheet and establishing themselves as the architects of value, change and resilience their companies need to remain competitive and resilient as a business.

An important first step in this transformation is considering the cultural and technological influences that impact Finance decisions and creating a list of new priorities necessary for building a foundation of substantive, long-term value.

This should include:

  • Empowering Finance teams with technology that reduces tedious work and provides the type of professional fulfillment that top talent now demands  
  • Becoming a digital tactician by restructuring the Finance to support future digital initiatives
  • Building a foundation of resiliency that can withstand inevitable future disruptions
  • Mastering new reporting requirements (e.g., Europe’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive)
  • Embracing change across ecosystems, from how companies structure their value creation chain to how they manage their supply chain and ecosystems in general
  • Keeping traditional requirements top of mind like productivity improvements, accuracy, timeliness of financial information creation, internal and external reporting requirements, etc.

Of course, CFOs can’t fulfill these lofty goals on their own. Rethinking old business models is a prerequisite but orchestrating change across multiple Finance functions requires digital assistance.

To learn more about the essential role technology — specifically, AI-driven automation solutions — plays in advancing the new agenda of today’s Office of the CFO, check out Part 2 of this blog.

Author Bio

Dan Rogney

As Esker’s Senior Copywriter, Dan plays a central role in creating thought-provoking marketing content designed to educate and engage audiences on the benefits of document process automation. When he’s not writing, you’re likely to find him poring over a good book, shamelessly playing with his daughter’s toys, or Googling the best ways to remove cat hair from clothing.

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