CFOs: The CIO's most important ally in the drive for digital transformation

The CFO and CIO can create a holistic strategy for technology investment, explains Sage's Matthew Kibby.

Today’s financial leader is not only responsible for financial planning, management and record-keeping – they also have a key role to play in the analysis of data and in strategic decision-making. They have visibility into all of the most important business data and the skills to analyse and interpret it. 

The CFO’s role in digital transformation is sometimes overlooked. They are often the CIO’s most important ally when a business embarks on its digital journey. The CFO brings to the table an astute understanding of how digital technology can be used as a lever for revenue and profit growth. 

CFOs have the insight and the information to look at digital projects – from enterprise applications to artificial intelligence and the cloud – and assess whether they will deliver the return on investment to justify the commitment of expenditure. They can evaluate whether initiatives are likely to differentiate the business and result in better productivity and efficiency. 

In partnership, the CFO and CIO are able to create a holistic strategy for prioritising technology investment. Together, these business leaders can deploy business solutions that help the organisation grow and thrive. For example, the CFO should be looking attentively at where inefficient processes can be automated, rather than increasing headcount, which can be a costlier exercise. The CIO then understands which solutions to apply.

Digital transformation is also changing how finance works. Progressive CFOs are looking at putting in place digital business solutions that give them fast and easy access to real-time financial data, which they can use to make better-informed decisions. As well as ensuring compliance, such tools deliver better access to financial and operational data, with automated alerts and perhaps capabilities such as scenario planning. 

Technologies like cloud and software-as-a-service empower CFOs to drive change in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. These solutions enable them to modernise processes and systems at lower risk and cost, putting the information they need in their hands wherever they are. 

Today, the CFO’s job is to create better financial strategies that align with the needs of the business. They must, in effect, become strategic partners empowered with the real-time analytics and insight that digital transformation can bring. Together with the CIO, they are well placed to lead their organisations into the digital age.