5 ways CFOs will impact their companies in 2018

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Published
  • January 08 2018, 10:00am EST

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Long gone are the days of finance and accounting departments being limited to record-keeping and balancing the books. By analyzing data patterns, uncovering the right numbers, and sharing the stories behind them, finance teams are now providing key insights to the C-suite to inform and influence smarter business-wide decisions.

Don Mal, CEO and co-founder of Vena Solutions, looks at five ways finance will further impact the C-suite in 2018.

Spearheading the adoption of analytics

By using a broader and more accessible range of tools available today, such as automation, business intelligence and integration, finance is leading the charge in analyzing data more effectively to offer valuable business insight. Indeed, finance will lead the adoption of analytics by the C-suite and other departments. We’ll see finance’s role move from 80/20 to a 20/80 split in terms of time spent on data consolidation versus analysis, and a similar shift in its value to the organization.

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Bringing in more non-financial data for a more holistic look

With technology today no longer a barrier to data consolidation, every bit of data being collected can now be used to tell more of the business’s story. This applies especially to the use of non-financial data in traditional planning and reporting, offering a true holistic look in terms of what is working — or not — for the business. In 2018, finance teams will integrate more and more non-financial data into their analysis to deliver a more comprehensive look at the state of their organizations.

Leading the C-Suite on long-term and predictive-based decisions

The most strategic CFOs focus on the future, not the past. Being able to collect and analyze data from other parts of the business, such as sales, marketing and operations, empowers finance with its own crystal ball. CFOs in 2018 will be leading the C-suite in making more data-driven long-term plans, using tools like scenario forecasting and predictive analytics, based on data from across the organization.

Providing new and better insight into what drives revenues

In many ways, finance operates as the business’s own investigative unit — uncovering and deciphering stories behind the numbers to provide valuable insight to the C-suite. With more tools and technology at its disposal, finance is able to uncover answers to questions the C-suite may not even be asking today, particularly around revenue performance. From the most effective marketing campaigns to the least profitable customers, finance will play a lead role in identifying what truly drives their companies’ revenues, what today is largely the untold story behind their top line.

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Evolving from data collection to storyteller role

Historically, the CFO’s role has revolved around financial reporting and risk mitigation (cash flow, data accuracy, regulatory compliance, etc.). The modern CFO embraces the fact that enterprise leaders are not looking just for data, but for the insights behind them and the stories they tell. The most successful ones will hone their communication skills, dig for insights beyond financial statement numbers, and anticipate the questions of their fellow C-suite executives to tell the most effective story of their companies’ past, present and future. The CFO’s evolution to chief storyteller lies in translating company-wide data into actionable insights, planning for a variety of future scenarios and directly influencing strategic decisions.