The movement toward connected businesses continues to grow and finance teams are relying on intelligent technology for smarter, faster decision making. Keep up the pace with evolving finance trends to gain better visibility into both performance and operations.
What will it take to succeed as the rules continue to change? Read the Top 8 Trends Every CFO Should Know About the Future of Finance to learn more about these new trends:
- Unified data and intelligence hold the key to strategy, speed, and forecasting.
- The modern finance department takes on new responsibilities.
- Customer experience and business ethics move up the priority list.
- Technology and fintech investments power finance operations.
- Adapting to global uncertainty means redefining business models
Competitiveness never stands still
While it’s become cliché to say that the pandemic taught business leaders tough lessons, it’s definitely true. For CFOs, a key lesson was to avoid the trap of getting comfortable with how things are—because they will inevitably change. Usually quickly. And when you least expect it. Times of pressure or disruption require CFOs to take a hard, objective look at the business model, sources of competitive advantage and investments. This can be an act of sheer survival, or a means to protect the business through turbulence and prepare for a future of recovery and growth.
Hands-on innovation wins hands-down
CFOs’ historical relationship with innovation in the business has typically been to “count the numbers” that come from it. As such, their role in driving innovation has been less direct and tangible than it is for other executive leaders, and certainly at arm’s length. Yet as the CFO has become more of a strategic partner to the business, I’ve seen this traditional dynamic break down as CFOs roll up their sleeves and get more intentional about their involvement in the innovation agenda.
Adobe’s John Murphy is this kind of CFO. Finance at Adobe is very involved in the governance and incentives that cultivate innovation. One way to do this is with different metrics that reflect the innovation objective, whether it’s incubating, scaling or sustaining a “cash cow.” With the CFO involved in all the stage gates of innovation, managing it as a portfolio, and releasing funds along the way, the finance function can drive a culture that supports experimentation and fast failure. If the CFO agrees that failing is part of innovating, and there are never any failures, the innovation agenda isn’t aggressive enough.
The closer to the customer, the better
When you think about executive leaders who are closest to the customer in most companies, you probably don’t think of the CFO first. Chief marketing officers and now chief digital officers and chief experience officers are expected to see everything through that all-important customer lens. But in a market where rapidly shifting customer expectations and behaviors, in both B2C and B2B environments, are such a driving force for change, every leader should make a commitment to understanding customers.