The role of the CFO in digital transformation

Last week I participated in Swedish conference CFOlive at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm, geared towards CFOs in mid- to large-cap companies. Focus of the day was digitalization and how it affects incumbent companies.

I held a speech on “Digital transformation – hype, efficiency gain or the growth opportunity of a century” and participated in an interesting panel debate with Accountor chairman Robert Szabo.

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After various chats with CFOs during the day it is clear to me that the CFO has interesting opportunities to grow the role in a transformation. As the CFO often has a direct line to the CEO and board, has HR reporting in to him or her, is naturally driven by data and numbers and represents natural ground between the two forces of marketing/CMOs and IT/CIOs who traditionally own digital transformation initiatives. However, in order for the CFO to capture the opportunity, he or she must be forward leaning into the transformation. A challenge here for some CFOs, might be to adapt to less of a risk-minimizing and more of a opportunity-seeking and agile fail-fast mindset. Successful CFOs in transforming the role however, can benefit from becoming a true and vital business partner in leading the company into the future.

In my presentation, I discussed the phenomena why so few disruptors come from within the current definition of the vertical, and thus why it is much more common with disruption happening from new entrants (often in the form of startups) with the ability to redefine the industry and the value created for the customers.

Following that I also discussed an adapted model of the bi-modal organization from Gartner covering not only IT, but how to implement two parallell organization forms with somewhat conflicting goals, processes, speed and governance, within the same macro-entity. This is something I’m convinced will be necessary for many incumbent organizations to stay competitive and release the burden of legacy as the speed of technology and disruption further increases.

Would love to discuss more on the above, feel free to ping or contact me in any way preferred.

Since last post I’ve also managed to change jobs. Since three weeks back I’m heading the customer experience team and the digital transformation offering at Forefront Consulting Group, where we’re building a holistic digital partner, covering both architecture, IT, management and CX-perspectives within the same organization.

Header photo credit: ylmworkshop @ Flickr

Christoffer Vollmer

Strategist, project manager, economist, change agent & experience designer with almost 20 years experience of digital strategy, transformation & disruption. Blogging about strategy, disruptive innovation, design thinking and digital transformation.