CFOs advocating for technology

CFOs discuss how technology can be used to eliminate legacy systems and improve the customer experience.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated business digital transformation by leaps and bounds. While some businesses have embraced it, others have been more hesitant to adapt and risk falling behind in the digital race.

However, some CFOs have been staunch supporters of technology, welcoming it into their finance functions with open arms.

iOCO group CFO Jo-Ann Pöhl (pictured) said that automation has become a feature of the finance function at the IT company.

The IT company now has a new leadership team, a well-established and robust governance framework and an appetite for renewal and growth. “We have successfully articulated our new business strategy in a relatively short time, and as data, technology, and compliance complexity grow, we have invested in how we align the back office with the front-end,” she explained.

iOCO set out to transform legacy systems and paper-based and manual processes in a more automated process. “When we called all the critical finance teams together, the process became about solving for the way forward collectively,” said Jo-Ann. “This meant that the buy-in came out of a direct correlation between what would improve the user experience and finance’s ability to deliver as operators, catalysts, stewards and strategists for the business,” she added.

Jo-Ann says determining which technologies you want to use as a company is a process on its own. Therefore, businesses should take time to identify the best in class and then create a shortlist of options that suit your context and what exactly you’re trying to solve for.

Read more: CFO Jo-Anne Pöhl makes the case for increased automation of the finance function

Embracing digital transformation
Sage FD Jordaan Burger shares the same sentiments and is of the view that CFOs need to embrace digital transformation to become more strategic business partners.

Jordaan says CFOs, more now than ever, are dealing with a lot of new complexity as the world changes, including remote working and cybersecurity. “On the other hand, we’re still expected to deliver what CFOs historically had to deliver on, which is telling the stories of the numbers,” he adds.

In order to tell the story of the numbers, CFOs need to use data, according to Jordaan.

“There’s more and more data in this digital world of ours,” Jordaan says. “That’s where systems and technologies come in.”

He explains that without systems and technology, CFOs will be unable to drive strategic initiatives in their businesses in order to have a vision of where the business is going and where they should focus their efforts.

“Technology is just playing a bigger and bigger role,” he says. “I think it’s difficult for CFOs to keep up, but we have to. We have to change our mindsets to embrace the technology to make sure that we can still fulfil our roles.”

Read more: CFOs need to embrace digital transformation

Chief futurist officer
Mr Price Group acquired Power Fashion and Yuppiechef earlier this year, marking the company’s first transactions in more than 20 years. Both transactions were completed in less than six months, indicating Mr Price’s desire to capture the lion’s share of the digital and e-commerce market.

“In South Africa and Africa, the emergence and penetration of smart devices has accelerated way faster than in developed markets,” said Mr Price Group CFO Mark Stirton. Communicating and transacting through apps and other digital mediums has become prolific. This provides a major opportunity for digitally ready organisations.”

Mark described himself as commercially strategic futurist and not a typical CFO. He is also a strong advocate of technology. “I am a proponent of technology and being a data-driven organisation. It is the key enabler to transform business models, replumb our business and enable an insights-driven organisation,” he explained.

Read more: Making the CFO the chief futurist officer