How Leading CFOs are Learning to Thrive amidst Digital Disruption
Date: 09/01/2017

By Marco Meisert

Digital disruption is transforming the corporate landscape, and innovative new business models are reshaping entire industries. To remain competitive, contemporary CFOs must assume new responsibilities, leverage new technologies, and implement new practices to identify and overcome these challenges.

In this age of disruption, competition and convergence are a ubiquitous presence. Technological advances are shaking up the status quo and sparking chaos within traditional marketplaces. Amid the turmoil, the CFO's role is evolving. Today's CFOs need to evaluate trends and exploit data analytics in order to improve decision-making and drive corporate strategy.

The demand for innovation has never been greater, nor have the risks been more difficult to mitigate. A 2016 report by the IBM Institute for Business Value, Redefining Performance - Insights from the Global C-suite Study, presented the views of 643 CFOs who responded to IBM's survey. It identified a group of CFOs who were particularly proficient in delivering valuable business insights. These teams, dubbed Value Integrators, were highly successful because they leveraged a robust infrastructure with common data definitions, standards, planning platforms and financial processes.

And within those Value Integrators, there was an elite subgroup with a yet superior track record. These individuals, known as Performance Accelerators, combined the strengths of Value Integrators with even more impressive analytical prowess. They accounted for only 4% of all CFOs who participated in the survey.

Cream of the crop: Performance Accelerators stand out for their analytical excellence

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[Image credit: Figure 1, 'Redefining Performance - Insights from the Global C-suite Study - The CFO perspective' by IBM Institute for Business Value]

Accelerators are 57% more likely to be highly profitable, and 55% more likely to enjoy exceptional revenue growth. These top CFOs are carving their own path through the digital turbulence, and helping their organisations to dominate the competition.

Performance Accelerators don't bury their heads in spreadsheets. They assess industry trends, study their competitors, identify threats and opportunities, and make informed, strategic decisions based on the insights they gather. These leading CFOs conduct detailed market research, integrating and analysing input from partners and customers. They evaluate data from multiple business units in order to optimise planning and boost company profits.

As barriers collapse between previously distinct industries, and enterprises within one sector apply their expertise to others, new hybrid business models are emerging and eliminating traditional industry classifications. But by rigorously analysing data from diverse operational, financial and external sources, Performance Accelerators gain the essential knowledge that helps them to thrive and prosper in this constantly evolving digital arena.