E-Book: CFO 3.0

Digitalization is not new. It has just meant different things throughout the years, as we made the shift from typewriter to computer, from fax to email. Every technological evolution marks an uptick in productivity and performance. And the most successful and resilient businesses make sure they are ready to accept the challenge to change and adapt.

The digitalization of the finance industry is fundamentally changing how the accountancy profession is conducted in its entirety. But rather than replacing traditional systems, we are adapting business models to utilize technology and provide better systems and services for our customers.

In the beginning we had CFO 1.0, the first edition of the chief financial officer who would keep the company books up to date and reconcile profit and loss. A historian, they were forever looking in their rear-view mirror—as financial reporting was about showing what happened yesterday (or last week, or the previous month), rather than forecasting potential.

Today, most companies exist in a state of CFO 2.0, a situation where we analyze data in the present. We have some great tools to help us, such as automated finance processes, financial management technology and sophisticated data sets. Living in the present, we are staring helplessly at the road ahead of us.

Enter CFO 3.0. A new era where the amalgamation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) delivers us to a new nirvana. CFO 3.0 is a new breed of trailblazing finance leaders who use data and emerging technology to create a vision for the future. They embrace new techniques, such as predictive analytics, to drive digital transformation to new frontiers of its capabilities.

To truly understand this transition from CFO 1.0 to CFO 3.0, at Sage we commissioned a study that enabled us to better comprehend the opportunity and challenges our fellow finance professionals are experiencing. We spoke to more than 500 U.S. – based CFOs to gain their perspectives on what their future job descriptions might look like and get a feel for the real impact tech is having on their day-to-day tasks. In our report, CFO 3.0 Digital Transformation Beyond Financial Management, we share your stories.

Many of you told us that your job has changed faster in the past five years than at any time in the past. And although many have embraced automation and the latest in financial management tools, you shared that you, too, suffer from chronic time pressure and bureaucracy. As a CFO, you are spending too much time on day-to-day tasks due to manual processing. At the same time, you also have to grapple with and master the latest in technology developments.

There is no doubt that the mindset and mentality of Millennials and Generation Z is also driving change. They enjoy working and interacting with the latest technology. They think nothing of remote working or adapting social channels to the workplace. To attract and retain the best talent, including the newest generation, you need to adopt the same technology and attitude—it’s what is required today to be a top organization.

As the CFO, you are in a unique position to see across the business in real-time. You now have the freedom to become visionary business leaders, strategists and the essential confidant to the CEO. And for those of you looking for a new challenge, the door is open to taking a larger leadership role within your company.

This is the new era – enter the world of CFO 3.0. We hope you enjoy reading the report as much as we relished the opportunity to engage with our peers, customers and future leaders to understand the industry from your side of the desk.