New Role For The CFO: Navigator To The Intelligent Enterprise

Neil Krefsky

Part of the “Intelligent Finance” series

CFOs have traditionally overseen stewardship of financial excellence and sound decision-making. And while those responsibilities are as critical as ever, CFOs are now likely to be viewed as a co-navigator with the CEO in finding profitable ways to implement the company’s strategy across all business functions.

Thanks to the latest crop of intelligent technology innovations, such as artificial intelligence, Big Data, in-memory computing, cloud, machine learning, and digital assistants, leading CFOs have access to well-equipped insight cockpits necessary to assist the CEO and others in the C-suite. However, we need to remember that the changes brought about by these digital breakthroughs are far more important than the technologies themselves.

As technologies become increasingly intelligent, businesses are continuing their evolution in using technology to shape the way work is done and maximizing its impact on business performance and value across the enterprise. And whether they like it or not, the office of the CFO and the finance organization are the front-runners in this journey to the intelligent enterprise. 

Essential to the co-navigator role: data expertise

Because today’s economy is increasingly driven by disruptive business models and digitally native market entrants, companies must transform and reinvent their brands to remain relevant. The CFO supports this reinvention by evaluating new initiatives for their profit potential, then ensures that end-to-end finance processes connect the entire business – fundamental to the new go-to-market approach.

When most business activities and operations touch finance, the more data-wealthy CFOs become. This is not only an opportunity for CFOs to gain valuable insights; it’s an opportunity for the finance organization to emerge as the analytics hub of the company. If that is to happen, the finance team must develop broad expertise in data analytics and process management.

A new era of finance leadership enabled by a digital core

When SAP first began its own internal transformation program, we created a digital foundation by implementing a next-generation ERP suite. This digital core is not only helping us continuously improve and simplify our operational processes overall. Our intelligent finance organization is increasing process efficiency thanks to a Big Data foundation with machine learning and predictive analytics embedded.

Access to all forms of data allows the finance team to get a more accurate, real-time view of our revenue pipeline, financial performance, HR data, and all other business-related line items. What’s more, our finance operations have seamless access to external sources of data – currency developments, trends in inflation rates, and competitor analysis, for example. This helps us understand how the business is performing against a backdrop of broader industry trends and global market dynamics.

Now, we are continuously increasing the quality and relevance of our insights with predictive algorithms embedded in our tools. We are simulating and predicting future outcomes with an unprecedented level of business intelligence, allowing the entire business to effectively respond to customer needs while mitigating risk and highlighting opportunities that would have been otherwise hidden.

Want to hear more how finance leaders and experts are harnessing the power of technology innovations to transform their operations? Register today to attend the first-ever, complimentary online SAP Finance and Risk Management Virtual Event for an insightful experience of customers, experts, partners, and SAP executives discussing today’s pressing finance challenges and opportunities.

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Neil Krefsky

About Neil Krefsky

Neil Krefsky is Head of SAP Finance and Risk Product Marketing at SAP. He is responsible for the development and execution of the product marketing strategy for SAP's solutions for the finance area including: SAP S/4HANA for Finance as well as applications for financial planning and analysis, accounting and financial close, treasury and financial risk management, collaborative finance operations, and enteprise risk and compliance.