For business to flourish and grow it needs close, supportive collaboration amongst those who make decisions and shape strategy. When there is enterprise-wide agreement on common goals and everyone in the C-suite is working towards the same objectives, then the company will benefit. It’s an obvious paradigm but it’s not fully functional in many organisations. Department heads have their own agendas and responsibilities and sometimes forget corporate objectives. This ‘collaboration gap’ has been particularly common between CFOs and CIOs where the CIO is determined to implement the best possible technology, but the CFO is watching the bottom line and ROI on future IT projects - but it’s a gap that’s closing in a changing world.
Today, CFOs occupy a wider role, deeply involved in shaping decisions that power progress. They are working in a landscape where finance has become a unifying element that underlies all other business areas. Including IT. After all, IT represents a serious investment for every organisation and the CFO must evaluate and optimise this investment – often hand in hand with the CIO. Now both these roles are broader, more collaborative and mutually supportive. Ideally. There’s no place for personal fiefdoms and vested interests in 2016!
A key driver of the new collaboration is the rise of analytics. Now that company performance is assessed and enhanced this way, the relationship between operations and IT is paramount. This is because while IT powers analytics, it is the wider business that defines core analytical needs. There’s a common goal wrapped up here and enterprises need a common standard to achieve it. Starting with the chart of accounts and financial systems, this financial performance information needs to be integrated with operational data. Once all this valuable, disparate information has been captured, defined and integrated, a ‘true’ picture of corporate performance can be created.
The CFO’s role now encompasses the protection of organisational assets such as data on new products, customers and market position. They are expected to spearhead innovation through data collection, investigate ways to minimise risk exposure, and leverage skills and knowledge across the enterprise. Such wide demands are bringing CFOs and CIOs closer, so that both professions can pool expertise on processes, analytics, product development and IT. Together they understand the technical capabilities of the company and they bring this shared knowledge to C-suite meetings, strengthening organisational knowledge. Collaboration is the key.
As the pressure increases on CFOs to provide valuable insights and effective recommendations, they become more technically switched on – making full use of mobile technology for example. They are quite at home implementing IT systems and talk frequently with their CIO peers. More and more CFOs need to to be versatile generalists, with a real grasp of analytics, accounting and IT, plus one eye on emerging trends beyond the boundaries of their traditional discipline. In a world of increasingly horizontal, collaborative organisations, social media and mobile data, it pays to be best pals with your key colleagues.