The crisis of 2008 and the emerging new business models (“uberisation”) shed light on the Chief Financial Officer. Suddenly, he had to go beyond his previous responsibilities and be part of the company’s digital transition as a strategy-maker at all company levels. The CFO becomes a business-maker by implementing new business models in his structure, accompanying digital change in the daily operations and assisting teams in this major shift.
How does digital transition urge the CFO to evolve?
Philippe Gangneux – Nowadays, CFOs really feel the acceleration conducted by the digital transition. They have to revise their priorities to cope with new components of their activity as analytics and predictive tools, SaaS, BI, artificial intelligence… The CFO is not only analyzing the past anymore, but also looking into the future. His core position is developing.
Can BtoB market profit from BtoC market?
P.G. – The individual market turned the corner first. Artificial intelligence already exists everywhere around us: a lot of BtoC apps like Siri, Uber or facial recognition apps are built on it. Some CFOs still believe that ERP software, which was innovative in the 80’s, represents the technological culmination peak of their business. In the year 2000, SaaS technology emerged; in the years 2010-2020, A.I. will flourish. I strongly believe that the digital has a high added value and that this shift cannot be ignored.
How are CFOs pushed to make this shift? Are they initiators or followers?
P.G. – I think most of the CFOs are aware that they can’t allow themselves to wait for guidelines from the executive management. If they don’t adapt right now, they will be overwhelmed within three or four years. These days, every company has processes: what they need now is data to serve, through A.I., as an additional layer over it.
There lies the key position of the CFO. He has to show some intelligence of data and be conscious of what they can enable. All the companies have a stake in the data they collect and CFOS become sensible to the possibilities behind this key asset.
Why are some CFOs still reluctant to change?
P.G. – CFOs are constantly solicited and torn between a thousand projects. Sometimes, they struggle to picture a long-range strategy, to consider what can seem an abstract project. Hence, the CFO has to juggle between daily activities and new considerations, which he cannot ignore anymore. He has legitimacy to go further in the customer cycle and take over this critical item, beyond cash collection but in a macro view. Therefore, he will be able to give information to the Sales Executive about customer behaviors but also become a facilitator at a transverse level. Sidetrade solutions can open up this window of opportunity.
On which levers push to attract their attention on a need they still ignore they have?
P.G. – CFOs are worried about risks, so it’s better to show them concrete and factual elements like benchmarks, key figures or direct impacts on the company strategy to convince them. However, they can be competitive: give them a head start and the opportunity to shine. Take care not to depict an overly-abstract picture like a portrait of the ideal CFO ten years from now: better accompany them one step at a time and build the future with them. The final aim being to make them reflect on the value they can bring to the company and the ROI they can demonstrate. In one word, question their primary drive: how would they benefit in changing? What do they have to gain in it?
So strategy is key.
P.G. – The stake is to persuade the CFO that it’s not subsidiary. Sidetrade can help him think not only fast, but smart.