The Tech-Savvy CFO: Innovate, Inform, Enable

Mark Partin

The accelerating pace of change has completely transformed our world, from the way we live to the way we work. Things have never moved this fast before, and they’re never going to move this slow again.

No one understands the importance of these changes better than the CFO.

CFOs are facing increased pressure as finance and accounting transform from a back-office function to a business partner that helps drive strategy and deliver results. CFOs are now expected to bring innovation to finance, have real-time information, and enable companies to make strategic decisions.

But how can a CFO perform these responsibilities with outdated technology?

Simply put: they can’t. CFOs are expected to innovate, inform, and enable, and they need to be tech-savvy to succeed in each of these areas.

Innovation requires courage

Manny Korakis, global corporate controller at American Express Global Business Travel, has some tough advice for CFOs: “You should be a little bit uncomfortable because doing the same thing every day is not going to work.”

It takes courage to embrace change and all of the accompanying uncertainty. But staying stagnant is no longer a viable business strategy, and the risk of doing nothing is more dangerous than ever.

CFOs need to drive innovation and deliver greater growth across the organization, and technology allows them to do that. According to a 2017 study by PWC, finance departments have a financial incentive to innovate, and the leading finance functions cost 36% less than the median finance functions.

The right technology, people, and information

CFOs also need to be better informed than ever before, which is impossible with outdated technology.

Today’s business world lives and breathes digital. CFOs need to be connected and able to access everything with the touch of a button, anytime and anywhere.

This requires more than just technology. It requires the right people to be able to clearly convey the correct information and explain why it’s essential for business.

How to thrive in a digital landscape

Modern CFOs need to be enablers, helping executives and boards make decisions and define strategy. However, there isn’t enough time for them to create a financial plan before co-designing the company strategy with the board.

CFOs must constantly be monitoring the company’s pulse: the financials. This means they can no longer passively monitor the numbers. They have to proactively identify opportunities and anticipate risks. They must do more than just prepare financial reports; they have to convey the equity story to stakeholders.

As digital shakes up the business world, leading finance organizations are stepping up and driving financial transformation, taking advantage of the latest technology. CFOs are rethinking everything about the way they work, their processes, and simplifying their business models while increasing value to the organization.

Successful CFOs realize that technology is not a nice to have; it’s a must-have and only the most agile continue to thrive.

Read BlackLine’s CFO Playbook Series to learn more about how to thrive in an age of change.

This article originally appeared on the BlackLine blog and is republished by permission.


Mark Partin

About Mark Partin

Mark Partin is CFO of BlackLine. He is responsible for ensuring that BlackLine’s finance organization continues to drive growth, capitalizing on the rising demand worldwide for software solutions that generate greater efficiency, financial governance, and risk management across all financial operations. Previously, he served as CFO at global SaaS company Fiberlink Communications, and at Headhunter.net (now Careerbuilder.com), helping lead its IPO. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.