Moving away from old processes takes convincing, but do finance teams really have to become “converts?”
There are backhanded compliments, and then there is the way technology experts talk about corporate finance teams and cloud computing.
Take a story in Fortune, which discussed how more CFOs and their teams are becoming converts to the cloud. Far from describing them as taking a bold leap to bring value to their organization, however, the author sounded surprised that “notorious luddites” such as those in finance were able to see the opportunity in front of them. Apparently all it takes is a little experience to turn that attitude around:
The cloud converts preach the same mantra: They can spend far less time closing the books and far more time helping CEOs and counterparts in sales and marketing deliver on business growth objectives. “All of the finance folks, especially the younger ones coming out of university, want to help decision making,” says Laurel Meissner, senior vice president and global controller for financial services giant Aon. “The types of tools we have had are not providing information fast enough, or deep enough.”
This is a great case for moving to the cloud, but why must finance executives be consistently portrayed as being dragged kicking and screaming towards progress? If the mission for many CFOs is to rebrand themselves as change agents and drivers of innovation, there may be some work to do around debunking old stereotypes.
An executive from Accenture suggested as much in a recent post on CFO.com, which explored the notion of “chief growth officers,” who would be known by a series of traits. This included “a visionary third eye for the future,” which was described as follows:
“It’s not sufficient for CFOs to base future patterns on past progress. The rear-view mirror is no longer helpful. Future CFOs will instead be asked to predict the future — to anticipate what’s to come and build changes into their organizations now to meet it successfully,” the post said. “Formerly known for being a left-brained analyzer, future CFOs will now need to incorporate that elusive, creative, right lobe.”
Those age-old attitudes towards finance departments won’t change overnight, of course. It will take CFOs and their teams being more proactive about learning how the cloud can help them, and being prepared with an action plan rather than merely a set of objections.
The ideal situation is where a CFO doesn’t need to be “converted” so much as assists in the conversion of older, manual processes. And if they can accomplish that, finance execs might finally get some compliments without the qualifiers.