As their role transforms, CFOs need to innovate to stay relevant

Chief financial officers (CFOs) need to innovate in order to remain relevant. Their roles will continue to evolve, a top company CFO said on Friday.

Participating in a panel discussion on ‘Managing Disruptions and Growing Sustainably —  The Role of CFOs’, at the CFO Conference 2015 organised by CII, Tata Elxsi CFO K Ramaseshan said, “CFOs have to be more digitally sophisticated and tech savvy to partner with business. Be it cloud computing, to big data, and data analytics.”

Going digital will involve technologies like mobility and social media to drive cost efficiencies, identify emerging opportunities, sound the alarm when the organisation is at risk, and help course-correct corporate strategy. In short, CFOs will require more focus on their roles as catalysts, as well as strategists, Ramaseshan said.

In his view, an unsettled economic environment, changing customer buying patterns, disruptive technologies, catastrophic disasters, and regulatory pressures have made today’s business climate exceptionally complex and at times unnerving for the organisation to align with these changes in a timely manner. To counter these disruptive forces, many organisations are transforming their business and operating models to create agility, deliver new products or services to the market, and maintain a competitive edge.

Dell Services Executive Director and CFO (Infrastructure and Cloud Computing) Anita Sanghi said innovation is the only way forward for a CFO. “Today everything from infrastructure, software, and platforms are being sold as a service,” she said.

Sanghi said cloud gives us speed and agility and we are no longer stuck with large investments. “CFOs will play a big role in an organisational transformation to cloud technology. In Q2 this year, three of the largest cloud companies’ capitalisation increased by $100 billion, and this to a large extent, was fueled by cloud growth. Cloud is proving to be extremely disruptive,” she said. (an online jewellery company) CFO Srikanth Rajasankar said “The time to respond to disruption has shrunk dramatically over the last few years. Either adopt to the new environment/model of a business or enhance your product offering/service to a new level through innovation. As the market place changes at a faster pace, this is as applicable to the disruptor as to the disrupted.”
DH News Service

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