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How are emerging tech trends changing the CFO position?

With the buzz around financial technology trends such as blockchain, CFOs might lose sight of one simple fact: You need to expand your business leadership vision.

Emerging technology is important, but many CFOs and corporations don't focus enough on the CFO position itself....

What I mean by that is the following: In the past, CFOs were basically "bean counters." They were put in a back office somewhere, and every once in a while, they produced reports on how the company is doing -- what it sold, what it's spending, how the payroll is, all of the numbers-related information. Clearly that information is not unimportant, but the CFO position was more of an afterthought than what I would like to see it become.

In the future, the CFO needs to become a full-fledged business partner, running the company. Emerging technologies, generally, and new finance technologies, specifically, will generate enormous amounts of data to a far greater extent than they are doing now, and the CFO will need the business and tech savvy to make strategic recommendations.

Getting insight into the financials has traditionally been a long process, for example, "I get the numbers, I go talk to whomever I need to talk to, we do some formulating," and so on. Using analytics and other newer technology tools, the CFO will be able to get almost real-time insight into issues -- "Store 8136 has a problem, let's go fix it."

As opposed to waiting until the end of the month or the end of the quarter to figure that out, he can take that information to the appropriate business partner so the company can act on the issue more quickly. In other words, the strategic version of the CFO position includes not only crunching the numbers, but also being an adviser to the operations of the organization, finding problem areas quickly and helping to resolve those problems.

This version of the CFO requires a very different focus and a very different decision-making process. 

Next Steps

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This was last published in August 2016

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In what ways has the CFO role become more important at your company?
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