Can CFOs champion collaboration and contribute to business strategizing?6 min read . Updated: 29 Apr 2020, 06:34 PM IST
CFOs are gatekeepers of critical data to support business decisions for senior leaders. This includes access to data relating to sales, supply chain, customer demand, business performance and real-time industry trends. Moving to Oracle cloud can help finance leaders with flexibility, scale and increased data accuracy to make informed decisions.
Traditional office-goers are now sharing their office space with their spouses, kids or parents. Their new office is their home. In spite of the initial hiccups, people have adapted pretty well to the circumstances finding their own sweet spots at their homes and turning them into dedicated office spaces. Meanwhile, the CFOs are taking notes!
As days go by, more and more businesses have started realizing that technology has made it possible to get work done even without employees having to sit in the office during a set time. A recently published Gartner survey involving 370 CFO respondents, states that 74% of CFOs expect to move previously on-site employees to remote work conditions.
We are witnessing a paradigm shift in work cultures and in the way businesses function. And technology is driving this shift.
Cloud technology has come to the forefront as businesses take the challenge of staying connected head-on. Designed to provide real time information delivery with enhanced transparency, Oracle Cloud platforms facilitate faster and more efficient business decision-making. For the end-customer, this means a hassle-free, seamless customer experience and unhindered service – and isn’t that what all businesses need?
CFOs of the future need to think digital
Companies who already had strong foundations of underlying technology running within the organization have been quick to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“In a span of 3 weeks we managed to achieve ~97% WFH for 3,000 people across the globe to be up and ready for working from home and ensure no disruption to our clients," said Rahul Malhotra, CFO, Integreon. “We also tied up with a cloud provider to provide data security solutions which could be setup very quickly with literally no capex and this provided additional comfort to our clients from data security perspective and ensured a constant stream of work from our clients even in this pandemic situation", he added.
Business leaders have now been calling Cloud, the ‘Superhero of COVID 19 for the business community’, a technology which is enabling people to bridge any communication gaps that arise due to physical absence. Jatin Dalal, CFO and Senior Vice President, Wipro, stated “Our investments in technology helped us in navigating the current dynamic environment. We were able to move much faster and collaborate better with the government, customer and employees in enabling working remotely. Our employees could work from home through Cloud VDI- enabling the virtual desktops and VPN connections. Within our own organization, for example, our chat messages between our employees have increased by about 47%. Our collaboration minutes have gone up by 26%."
Now, more than ever, firms across the globe are realizing the need to digitally transform – and they need to do so at a lightning speed to be able to keep pace with the changing needs and demands of their customers as well as their employees.
Not every industry however can function unhindered without on-site employees. Take manufacturing for example, where most of the work happens inside a factory and only back-office work can be done remotely. However, a lot of big decisions, even for these firms are taken in board rooms- and real-time communication could be the key to better operations. Arvind Joshi, the CFO of Sandhar Technologies shares, “Upon the implementation of a global ERP package, the company gradually moved all its operations on to digital platform. What started with just the finance function now encompasses Production Planning, Production, Supply Chain Management, Human Resources, Enterprise Asset Management, Product Life Cycle Management as well as now the latest in implementing Industry 4.0 ! We realised long time back, that if we have to be nimble footed in decision making, it is important that the flow of information from the shop-floor to the board room be on virtual real-time basis." As virtual world takes over the physical world, Cloud ERP is going to be one of the most sought-after solutions to get work done across industries.
Finance at the helm of digital transformation
Disruptive technologies and new business models are forcing companies to innovate, adapt and transform for a digital, customer-first world. With technological innovations at an all-time high, rise of emerging markets, more empowered consumers and employees and active government intervention; traditional business models are going to face major disruptions in the years to come. Therefore, it will ultimately fall on the CFO’s shoulders to not only manage disruption, but to also identify and invest in the business models, products, and services that will lead to sustainable scaling up.
“In times of high volatility, it puts a great demand on acting fast and in a dynamic manner. Plans made today may fall short of expectation and by the time they get implemented they may become outdated. Fortunately for us, while most of the advantage of digital transformation flows in from non-finance department embracing technology, here in Sandhar it is the Finance department which takes the lead in strategizing and rolling over of the enterprise resource planning ," shared Arvind.
At Oracle, the CFO is understood as the central character for successful digital transformation and the services are aligned to help finance leaders become data leaders through hyper-connectivity.
“We are in the process to shifting our finance function to Oracle cloud and we have started realizing it is convenient to use, visualise and ofcourse, transactional automation makes life much easier," shares Rahul Malhotra. To this Arvind Joshi adds, “I also believe it is cost-efficient and economically beneficial."
Cloud as a solution: Helping businesses rise above all issues
The road however is not all smooth for CFOs. There are several challenges which the finance function has had to face in order to truly embrace digital transformation.
“Some of the barriers that CFOs may face in order to drive such a large scale transformation includes cost, getting the organization’s attention to what is important in the medium term but is not a problem in the ‘Here & Now’, find the right people to lead such transformations and change management. Of course the present situation will make the task even more challenging," points out Wipro CFO, Jatin Dalal.
A tough task for any organization is to unlearn the past processes. CFOs and their teams work on so much data – which often resides on disparate disconnected legacy systems making the task of consolidation and streamlining even more difficult. Cloud emerges as an undeniable solution for addressing a lot of issues ranging from data streamlining to unhindered communication, better collaboration to real-time decision making. Oracle Cloud services aim to offer an apt solution for addressing a lot of issues ranging from data streamlining to unhindered communication, better collaboration to real-time decision making.
“As cloud solutions continue to mature, offerings supporting core financial management applications are becoming more conventional, lean, agile and scalable. As we move ahead in our cloud journey within the finance function we would see transformed and innovative business processes using SMART technologies and support our business partners on real time basis," adds Jatin.
Cloud platforms promise to provide real time information delivery with enhanced transparency facilitating efficient business decision making. For the end-customer, this means better customer experience and unhindered service.
“My expectations from this – streamline processes with minimalistic manual intervention resulting in lesser errors, inbuilt controls checkpoints, less reliance on hardware being on cloud and generating human capacity to drive further initiatives rather being bogged by transactional stuff," sums up Rahul Malhotra, CFO, Integreon.
A major part of a CFO’s duty is to ensure relevant data is collected and analysed, and that the insight generated is distributed across the businesses as useful knowledge. Thus, he needs to be more collaborative. Not having clear sight and quality knowledge can result in a business missing out on opportunities.
The strategic overview vital for meeting such demands is well within the CFO’s reach. However, the CFO is often hampered by outdated technology, incapable of rising to the tasks asked of it. In order to overcome these challenges, the finance function must transition to cloud that combines the options and capabilities of on-premise, private and public cloud technology across the entire business.
By making use of the agility, flexibility and reliability of Oracle cloud, CFOs can contribute towards business strategizing for the organization.