All CFOs have to be ‘digital’ and here’s why

Posted by  Ray Leclercq

Recently we’ve seen a lot of attention on the CIO and the CMO when it comes to bringing digital expertise to Boards. But what about the CFO? In today’s digital businesses, successful CFOs will have to share the burden whether they like it or not. That’s because it has fundamentally changed the way business is done and has impacted business models irreversibly. It has created a new business landscape where new companies with digital business models are becoming successful almost overnight, while existing companies are working hard to become digital to ensure their own successful futures.

Yet still, many CFOs don’t understand or acknowledge the impact ‘digital’ is having on their business and on their role as financial steward. However, the argument is pretty simple. The rise of the subscription economy combined with the digital revolution, enabled by  new entrants, early adopters and those that are evolving and re-inventing themselves, is disrupting the market. A businesses success will depend on how well its leaders understand and respond to the opportunities and threats that digital brings, and so the CFO must take more than a passing interest whether they like it or not.

The digital revolution is continuously reinventing the way we do business, from the services we deliver to customers to our channels to market and marketing and sales approaches. By creating a digital business model, Uber for example, reinvented a very mature industry. The taxi business has been turned on its head in just a few short years and we’re seeing the same in other industries too.

The conclusion we can take from this is that digital is not a technology issue on its own, nor is it an issue for the marketing department. It is fundamental to business success, employee effectiveness, customer satisfaction, product innovation and the bottom line.

This is why all CFOs with a future in business need to become ‘digital’ in their thinking. Only by understanding the opportunities and risks it creates can they take advantage and deliver shareholder value while managing the company’s finances and reputation.

Ray Leclercq

Ray Leclercq

Ray Leclercq was Unit4's CFO from 2014 to 2016 with responsibility for finance, IT and legal affairs. Prior to Unit4, Ray was Managing Director at private equity firm, the Gores Group, where he was responsible for portfolio company oversight and controls. He held CFO and CTO (Chief Transformation Officer) roles at Unify, a unified communications business and a joint venture between Siemens AG and the Gores Group and prior to that was CFO, BT Global Services and CFO, BT Openreach. He began his career in general audit at Coopers and Lybrand.