Commentary

5 Ways CFOs Can Drive Relevance At Scale

Consumers are using digital platforms to buy directly from manufacturers, bypassing traditional retail. Their preference for convenience is making subscription models ever more prevalent. Above all, relevance is now their number one priority. 

Traditional operating models simply weren’t designed for this level of complexity, which requires an incredible amount of organizational agility -- something many businesses just don’t have yet. It also calls for a rethink of the entire value chain, all the way from developing new concepts, through manufacturing, to the store shelf and beyond. 

Enter the CFO

Chief Financial Officers are uniquely positioned to help drive this journey forward. They have the necessary insights to build the business case for change. And they have a crucial role in driving the efficiencies in the core business that will fund the pivot to more profitable growth. 

Our research shows CFOs see their role is changing. They’re now just as likely to view themselves as “value champions” and “transformation drivers” as their more traditional business functions. 

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For instance, 81% of surveyed CFOs say targeting areas of new value across the business is a major focus, while 78% say they lead efforts to drive business-wide operational transformations and efficiencies through digital technology.

New roles, new skillsets

Delivering relevance at scale means adapting the consumer goods supply chain for new levels of personalization and multiple sales channels. 

And here CFOs have a vital role to play. They can bring a data-driven approach to selecting partners and ensure this complex endeavor remains focused on value-adding outcomes.

These new requirements are changing the CFO skills profile. CFOs themselves say that anticipating and managing risk, long-term strategic thinking, and insight into new technologies are now their most important capabilities. What’s more, they know the broader finance function needs to change too, with the ability to innovate the most sought-after capability for junior finance staff. 

There are five actions every CFO should be taking today to drive relevance at scale:

  1. Digitalize finance – then the company. Finance is an ideal testing ground for digital technology, automation, and AI. CFOs should be using their experience and lessons learned to drive a digital transformation across the business.
  1. Harness data for insights. CFOs know the value of data visibility and should champion the use of real-time analytics and insights across the C-suite and beyond.
  1. Develop the future finance workforce. CFOs should be planning holistically for their future talent needs, including promoting the greater use of AI and other innovative digital technologies.
  1. Drive a deep transformation of operations. CFOs should be considering zero-based budgeting as a means of creating spend visibility, driving the efficiencies that can fund a pivot to new growth.
  1. Be the architect of value. CFOs should be influencing decisions about ecosystem partner organizations, ensuring every move is focused on delivering ultimate value for the business.

Above all, CFOs need to put themselves at the center of business decision-making as their companies pivot to the operating models that deliver consumer relevance and capture new growth opportunities in a highly complex, uncertain, and ever-evolving consumer goods marketplace.

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