I recently had the pleasure of attending a networking event hosted by cfo.org in New York. Throughout the day CFOs participated in panel discussions and round tables to share their insights and predictions for the future as it relates to new trends in financial management.
One of the key themes of the day was that the role of the CFO is changing as the lines between financial management and operations are blurring. What is the most important quality of the future CFO? Believe it or not, the answer was charisma. Some more introverted CFOs may cringe at the thought of what this means for the future. Gone are the days when they can take comfort in quietly focusing on data analysis, trends and buying decisions alone in their office. The next generation of CFOs must engage across teams to inspire and motivate employees to focus on strategic thinking and drive hard-to-meet goals.
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To build out their teams, CFOs need to look for employees that not only have a degree in accounting, finance or business, but also in information technology. They are looking for new hires to have an agile mindset and be able to easily adapt to changing technology, as effectively managing the operations of an organisation will require integrating a range of best-of-breed financial management solutions. Agility - the ability to quickly adapt to new paradigms and change course accordingly - is the key to future-readiness.
Organisations increasingly need to rely on technology to remove tedious, labour-intensive, and non-value-generating tasks from employee workloads. Automation, AI and machine learning all need to be leveraged for transactional processing over manual data entry to free up time and reduce costs. Instead, finance teams will spend their time on operational insights and predictive financial modelling to drive efficiency and scalability. In fact, almost two-thirds of CFOs anticipate that over half their time will be spent on predictive analysis, according to Raul Vega, CEO of Auxis.
How do you get there? Having access to the data is the first step, but it’s not enough. Here is where charisma comes in. Investing in software is arguably the easy part. In order to be a true data-driven organisation, you have to also change the culture throughout the organisation, where all meaningful decisions must be based on accurate and timely data. As the central pillar of this paradigm shift, CFOs are tasked with creating a foundation of professionals who rely on the data vs. intuition to make decisions. As one CFO noted at the event, “everyone is struggling with this.”
Data integrity is the first place to begin to build a culture of data-driven decision-makers. Systems must integrate and share data seamlessly and accurately, so data can be accessed and analysed in near-real-time, without the need for major data mining initiatives. Once organisations can rely on the quality of the data, the next step is to move into a state to let the data work for you with predictive analytics and dashboards.
When all of these items are in place, it becomes possible to make smarter, data-based decisions which would have been impossible in an environment where data is siloed across multiple departments and platforms.
Chrome River’s expense and invoice automation solutions form a key part of this data-driven approach for future-ready organisations. Our solutions were designed from the ground up with an open architecture that allows straightforward integration into other corporate solutions, such as ERP, accounting, HR, and travel management. This enables our customers to select the best-of-breed solutions which best serve their needs in the markets they operate.
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Our choice of Chrome River EXPENSE was made in part due to the very user-friendly interface, easy configurability, and the clear commitment to impactful customer service – all aspects in which Chrome River was the clear winner. While Chrome River is not as large as some of the other vendors we considered, we found that to be a benefit and our due diligence showed that it could support us as well as any large players in the space, along with a personalized level of customer care.
We are excited to be able to enforce much more stringent compliance to our expense guidelines and significantly enhance our expense reporting and analytics. By automating these processes, we will be able to free up AP time formerly spent on manual administrative tasks, and enhance the role by being much more strategic.