CFOs are facing a time of unparalleled change

November 24, 2022 | 5 Mins David Daly

CFOS at multinational companies these days are facing huge levels of change, a lot of which are due to factors beyond their control. We are emerging from a global pandemic, but all economic indicators point to economic supply chain disruption and market turbulence in the coming months as well as into 2023.

The CFO role is an all-encompassing role, it is about running a business and sometimes multiple businesses within a large enterprise. There are a range of factors that can impact and cause disruption to the thinking and strategy of a CFO.

Despite the seemingly endless sequence of challenges and continuous change, CFOs today are finding that data today is becoming much more readily available and accessible if organizations have the right technology in place to deliver this data. Access to wide-ranging data can really help with informed decision making and forecasting.

CFOs when attempting to manage change and upheaval, will seek out data that can help direct them to the most appropriate conclusion and strategic decision. In this article, we are going to look at some of the challenges CFOs are facing today and how they can meet these challenges with data and technology.

The volume of change

One of the key challenges facing the chief financial officer and finance teams at a multinational company today is simply coping with the volume and continued pace of change-this can be change in the business environment, the economic landscape, technology advancement or the geopolitical landscape. It is not a role for the fainthearted, continuous change is to be accepted and even embraced, and only calm heads will prevail.

A natural follow up to the large volume of change is an accompanying large volume of data to manage. This is a bit of a double-edged sword for CFOs and finance leaders everywhere-on the one hand, they greatly appreciate the ability to access this data for decision making but on the other hand, it is often a struggle for the organization to deliver exactly the kind of data they need. There are complex reasons for this but sometimes it is a case of multiple disparate legacy systems, simply not talking to each other. Investments have not yet been made to get these systems to integrate and therefore there is a lot of trapped data inside these systems, and it can be a challenge to release this data and converted into easily digestible real-time reporting and statistical analysis.

An example of this can be found in the global payroll department where legacy processes and systems, means that some very useful data around labor costs and country comparisons cannot be leveraged because an investment in global payroll technology has not yet been made to release this data via innovative digital tools.

CFOs will therefore be interested in business-critical services and internal departments that can benefit from integrations technology that can support seamless and automated data flows between relevant business units. This will help to lay the foundations for comprehensive and consolidated reporting, enabling this data to funnel up to the surface so the metrics can be analyzed and converted into actionable business decisions.

Distribution of limited resources

CFOs are often called upon to achieve the impossible task of pleasing everybody! They control the purse strings and the finances of the organization, making them the go to person for a business case for investment.

Every department head inside a multinational company will have a use for additional funding so everybody will be approaching the CFO with a confident claim as to why their department should receive preferential investment ahead of another department.

But of course, there will be a cap on investment and a finite number of resources available to a CFO. No CFO has the luxury of an open checkbook-this person is then required to look at the business case and make decisions that are in the best interest of the wider business, not only the individual internal department that is seeking financial support or new technologies. Understandably, this can be a delicate balancing act as different people will react to these kinds of delicate conversations in different ways.

The CFO will need to interact with a lot of stakeholders and hear from a lot of individuals inside the organization, so that they can come to the most accurate conclusion around how to divide up the limited resources available to the business in a way that best supports the overall strategic objectives of the business. The CFO will therefore require a certain number of soft skills or interpersonal skills to ensure full buy in from the largest number of stakeholders possible.

Delivering a new digital experience

CFOs today are expected to be digitally savvy individuals as they know that technology has the power to transform an entire organization. Technology influences the products and services you deliver to the market as well as the internal processes and business strategy that make these products and services a reality.

A CFO recognizes the crucial importance of information, data and technology when it comes to the core parts of their business. And they will be interested in learning about ways in which these three can combine to deliver a new digital experience to their customers- an innovative digital experience that will ultimately serve to boost existing revenue streams while creating opportunities to develop new revenue streams.

They will also be looking at ways in which information and technology can create digital experiences inside the organization that can help departments to understand the overall business and operate better-this includes their own finance departments.  One such area could be in the form of analytical solutions which help organizations to understand both their customer base and how they are using specific products and services. Analytical solutions provide user-based data and insight, and these can be particularly powerful in SaaS business models which rely on recurring subscriptions- you can find out what customers are subscribing to, what services they are using and also which services they are not using.

CFOs we’ll be aware that there is hardly one area of any business that won’t be touched by the technology changes and innovations that we are seeing across the business landscape today. So, new and innovative digital experiences, both internal and external will be high on the priority list of any chief financial officer.


It is a time of unparalleled change and even deep uncertainty post-covid, but there is little that a chief financial officer can do to control these external factors. If change is the only constant, then there is simply no waiting for the storm to pass-the CFO needs to dig in, fully understand the business and leverage all available data and technology advances to meet the strategic goals of the organization in a way that is cost-effective and operationally efficient.



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