CFOs learned that they can use technology to reveal the blind spots they have within their businesses.
Conversations about the future are futile if they don’t include technology. This is what 50 leading finance professionals concluded during the Cape Town Summit on 22 June at 180 Lounger.
With the prevailing theme of building strong relationships, Webber Wentzel CFO Aneshree Naidoo explained that people and technology are not mutually exclusive. “We can’t go digital without thinking about people. Technology can be an enabler, creating capacity and space for people to get closer to the business. And if you deploy the right people, the benefits of your technology transformation will be fast and furious.”
FNB South Africa CFO Markos Davias agreed, saying that technology has allowed his finance team to do something different and bring new learnings to the team.
In a presentation, SAP industry head of financial services Darrel Orsmond referenced a recent interview with Standard Bank CFO Arno Daehnke in which he explained that finance is past the stage of measuring income statements. “CFOs have become the de facto measuring point for value and are being held accountable to have an opinion on divisions that reach far beyond the numbers of the organisation.”
Knowing what you don’t know
Darrel said that finance leaders now need to bring together data that has to do with productivity, and marry sales data to marketing data to determine actual returns. “The finance function is being looked at to forecast and predict what the consequences of foolhardiness and wisdom might be to the organisation.”
However, he explained that various blindspots have emerged in this process, because they are not directly correlated to the income statement and financials.
These blind spots include:
- True buying behaviour and motivation
- The real costs of doing business
- Lost opportunities
- Segment migration drivers
- Substitute and replacement drivers
- Future earnings risks and potential
- True segment behaviour drivers
- Workforce motivation
“These things matter more than ever. Because the people who don’t have those blind spots are getting all the business,” Darrel said, encouraging the attendees to find their blind spots and to use technology to make the unknown known.
He explained that finance should take a world view on what they will be doing years from now. “The real thing that matters is to have as little data at once, as broadly as you can possibly have. Start with what you know to work out what it is you don’t know. And what you don’t know, you have to build a plan to get – at the lowest cost, with the best technology.”