Artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies, along with CFOs and their finance teams, all have significant roles to play in transforming companies into digital organizations, according to SAP CFO Luka Mucic.
“Innovative technologies are transforming the role of CFOs and their organizations today,” he said in a keynote Feb. 5 during the online SAP Finance and Risk Management Virtual Event.
But he said: “With all the excitement over modern technologies such as in memory, big data, machine learning and AI, digital assistants and more, we sometimes need to remind ourselves that digital transformation is not about technology for technology’s sake. No, instead it is about finding new ways to use technology to better serve our customers.”
And, he added: “By reimagining our businesses around the customer and by transforming them into digital businesses, we can truly gain a competitive edge in the digital economy.”
An organization’s CFO and finance organization are “integral to the digital transformation of companies,” he told viewers, adding: “In the digital economy, business models and how we do business continuously evolve. And, since most business activities touch finance in some way, obviously the CFO’s role must also evolve. The CFO role is not one-dimensional, but multi-dimensional. For me, the CFO is not just the traditional steward that most people would associate us with. The CFO is also a business partner to all other business functions and a driver of transformation.”
The CFO should also be the “co-navigator” of a company, who works with the CEO to find profitable ways to implement an organization’s strategy, he said. That co-navigator role is important because, “in today’s disruptive and digital economy, companies must transform and reinvent their business models to remain relevant, and finance plays an important role in this transformation,” he explained.
Mucic went on to cite the important steps that CFOs need to take to help transform their businesses digitally, telling viewers: “First, we need to evaluate which new business models have the potential for economic success. Then, we need to support the end-to-end finance processes connected to these new models.”
Because most businesses activities “touch on a finance activity or process,” an organization’s finance team “has access to a wealth of business data” — and that provides “a unique opportunity for us to gain valuable business insights,” he said. As a result, he explained: “It is no surprise that finance organizations are increasingly becoming the analytics hub of the enterprise.”
But he warned: “For finance to drive transformation, we must be leaders of change, embrace innovations and anticipate the impact of new technologies.”
Meanwhile, “driving transformation also means simplifying processes – focusing on the true value drivers of the enterprise and partnering with other functions” within an organization, including with CIOs “to push this transformation across the enterprise,” he said, adding: “Our success depends on co-navigating these changes.”
Turning to SAP specifically, he pointed out his company is “operating in a fast-paced global and increasingly regulated business environment.” Therefore, he explained: “We can best support our business with agile, fast and simple processes and technology. We can also develop insights that were not possible until now and transform that insight into foresight.”