CFOs today are driving business growth strategically

With the role of CFOs moving on from just ‘the numbers person’, it has become vital that they adapt to strategies that reshape business processes to optimise for profitability

By Anam Khan

Published: Tue 25 Jan 2022, 9:38 AM

Last updated: Tue 25 Jan 2022, 9:40 AM

The golden triangle — technology, people and process — is key to improving operational efficiency. These are the three main pillars when it comes to running businesses effectively. Thus, businesses have to find the right balance between these critical components.

In association with Oracle NetSuite, the world’s first cloud software company, Khaleej Times rolled out the webinar on the topic ‘CFO of the Future’, on November 17. As businesses in the UAE grappled with the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the keynote speakers highlighted the key components — agility, flexibility and speed — that allowed the nation to overcome hurdles smoothly. The speakers also underlined the changing nature of the CFO’s role and the skillsets required for the future.

“Covid-19 has impacted everyone. Apart from challenges, there have been many learnings,” said Anil Jain, Group Head of Finance at TruKKer. Putting down the challenges faced by his start-up journey during the pandemic, Jain added: “Our business did face a few hurdles. Overall, some channels had gone down, but many had risen. We accelerated revenue from our business model in many ways during the pandemic. We also enhanced our processes to increase the business efficiency, while digitising and atomising the process from customer inquiry until the collections, which gave us the real-time visibility on each step and lead time thereof.”

Technology plays a crucial role in determining the right tools. The webinar also included the important topic of automation. Complex technology creates a situation of severe tension and incompatibility, and therefore we need to understand that data plays a vital role in strategising and outlining the business goals set by an individual company. But without the right tools and guidance, it is impossible to decipher and improvise what works and doesn’t work for a company.

On the adaptation in the ever-changing business model for the CFOs, Tahir Gondal, Head of Finance,, stated: “Today the role and responsibilities of CFOs are evolving. They are no longer the number guys. The top priority of CFOs should be to have a strategic mindset and the comprehensive understanding of being able to add improvised strategies to the company’s portfolio.”

Coming to financial data, analysis has helped businesses make important decisions by providing information on time, thereby increasing the value of the business. The finance department is evolving very quickly, said Gondal. “Data analysis is the way to go. In another 10 years, low-level accounting jobs will be obsolete. Being data-driven with the ability to analyse and decipher the data will be key skills for CFOs of the future,” he explained.

As companies worldwide struggle with rapid demographic, technological, and competitive changes, finance business partnering offers an opportunity to create a strategic advantage. Emphasising this, Elias Sleiman, Financial Controller, Fresh Fruits Company, stated: “Finance is now a business partner to help companies drive growth. The finance team leads quick decisions with analytics and ensures that the right decisions are made. A wider understanding of technology is important for the finance leaders to fully utilise the potential for ERP. Robotics, AI and automation are reducing the transactional type of finance function and also helps to monitor and control business operations to align with the company goals.”

Discussing the importance of successful finance teams, Thomas Sutter, Finance Centre of Excellence at Oracle NetSuite, stated: “Today is the age of accountants and auditors. The goal is not to continue as before, but to evolve using technology and processes to automate accurately and improve continuously. That’s when people can spend more time being accounting engineers, using data to become efficient business partners and influence their organisation.”

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