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CIO and CFO roles critical in digital transformation

CFO
Today, the job of a CFO is to create better financial strategies that align with the needs of the business. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The chief financial officer (CFO) needs to work closely with the chief information officer (CIO) to understand where technology investment should go and what should be prioritised

Digital transformation is high on the agenda for CIOs in Africa.

According to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda, 30 per cent of CIOs in Africa have placed digital as their number one business priority for 2019. But transforming their companies’ business models is not something that CIOs can achieve on their own.

The impact of digital transformation on every aspect of the business — from back-office processes to the customer experience — means that it’s more important than ever for technology and business strategy to be aligned. The chief executive, chief marketing officer (CMO), and chief HR officer (CHRO), as well as the CFO all, have a role to play.

Who could be better positioned to partner with the CIO to understand how digital technology can be used as a lever for revenue and profit growth than the CFO? The modern CFO is not only responsible for financial planning, management and record keeping — he or she also has a key role to play in the analysis of data and in strategic decision-making.

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The financial leader is the person who sees all vital business data and has skills to analyse and interpret it.

As such, CFOs are in a great position to look at digital projects — from enterprise applications to artificial intelligence and the cloud and assess whether they will deliver the return on investment to justify the long-term change. They can evaluate whether initiatives are likely to differentiate the business and result in better productivity and efficiency.

For that reason, the CFO needs to work closely with the CIO to implement technological changes. For example, the CFO should be keen on where inefficient processes can be automated rather than increase headcount, which can be a costlier exercise.

As part of digital transformation, CFOs should be looking for enterprise technology solutions that can provide fast and easy access to real-time financial data, which they can use to make better-informed decisions.

As well as ensuring compliance, these tools must give them better access to financial and operational data, with automated alerts and perhaps capabilities such as scenario planning.

The cloud is a great enabler, allowing CFOs access to real-time data anywhere and anytime.

With enterprise cloud solutions now reaching maturity, businesses are turning away from legacy Enterprise Resource Planning systems to more flexible and cost-effective solutions such as Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management.

Today, the job of a CFO is to create better financial strategies that align with the needs of the business.

The writer is Vice President, Enterprise, Africa & Middle East at Sage, a technology firm.

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