The evolving role of the chief financial officer (CFO) means they need to embrace emerging technology to gain greater business insight and more efficient financial management. Removing the mechanical burden of the role means these business leaders are free to concentrate on adding value in the form of creative innovation and strategic direction to continue moving the business forward. CFOs can only do this effectively if they take full advantage of cloud-based solutions, according to Concur.

Matthew Goss, managing director, ANZ, SAP Concur, said, “The cloud lets CFOs move faster, try more options with less risk, and find new ways to compete. CFOs don’t have time for manual processes. They need ways to forecast cash flow accurately, improve working capital, gain deeper visibility into finances, integrate data into systems that are easy to use and intuitive, analyse data, and, most importantly, improve productivity.

“Without doubt, the technology with the biggest impact for CFOs to date is the cloud. Transitioning to cloud-based infrastructure saves money in terms of on-premise hardware costs, the need for related skills, and the need for physical space to store the infrastructure. Cloud offers benefits on two fronts: both to automate aspects of the CFO’s own role and to save money when implementing technology to help drive overall business growth and success.

“Cloud-based systems that make it easier to manage and automate financial operations are, therefore, exceptionally attractive to CFOs looking to add more value to the business.”

By handing off previously-manual processes to cloud-based, automated systems, CFOs are freed up to be more strategic. This is crucial, since there is an emerging trend that more CFOs are stepping into the role of CEO. A recent Deloitte study revealed that three-quarters of CEOs from high-performing companies believe the CFO’s role will grow in importance more than any other C-suite role.

For CFOs to break free from the traditional, number-crunching aspects of the role and fulfil their potential as a strategic business leader, they will need to leverage every tool at their disposal. Cloud-based technology will help them remain relevant and position themselves for success.

Some of the key cloud technologies CFOs should consider include:
•  automated expense management solutions that build in compliance requirements so employees have no other option but to comply with spending policies and approval timelines
•  enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that deliver enterprise-grade functionality at a pay-as-you-go rate and availability to employees regardless of their location
•  infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), which lets businesses turn over the burden and cost of maintaining hardware and infrastructure, and simply deploy workloads and applications in the cloud
•  software-as-a-service (SaaS), which eliminates the time and cost involved in rolling out software solutions to the organisation, and lets users access systems via the internet wherever they are.

Matthew Goss said, “While each business has unique needs, it’s no accident that more CFOs are turning to the cloud for business IT requirements. It saves money, increases agility, and helps CFOs contribute to the organisation’s strategic direction in a meaningful way.”