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The modern CFO goes by many names: from chief data officer and storyteller to chief future officer. Whatever their sobriquet, CFOs have shifted their role from reporting on past performance to being an agent for change, a visionary to successfully guide the business into the future. To accomplish this, CFOs are harnessing the power of technology to get real-time, actionable insight right in the palm of their hand.

This requires CFOs to become tech-savvy, knowing how to use technology to gain a competitive edge for their organization as a whole and for their individual roles. In a CFO Research survey, 93% of respondents said they believe that future CFOs will need a much stronger technology skill set than is now required to do the job, and 64% have taken specific actions to boost their technology skills. Indeed, understanding how to derive business advantage from technology is what sets the modern CFO apart from the one who will be left behind.

The CEO’s secret to success

That differentiator is particularly important for chief executive officers (CEOs) who rely on their CFOs to provide an objective, accurate picture of the business’ performance and provide insight that will determine future actions. In fact, a KPMG survey, The view from the top,found that 85% of CEOs of top-performing organizations say that applying financial data to achieve profitable growth is the greatest strategic value a CFO can add to an organization.

“CEOs are relying on their CFOs to constantly measure, analyze and anticipate their clients, their markets and their channels—and create value from that knowledge to support their go-to-market strategies,” says Egidio Zarrella, head of data analytics at KPMG, based in Hong Kong.  

Cloud and mobile—the technology of the CFO trade

Today’s CFOs are embracing mobile and cloud computing technology such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), mobile networks, and smartphones to gain this insight and to work more efficiently. SaaS business applications like ERP or financial management software offer a single source of truth from which CFOs can truly understand their business. Finance can connect to and collaborate with sales, operations, and other departments to work more productively.

Most importantly, CFOs have visibility into the overall performance of their business through real-time reporting and dashboards. These reports can be accessed and viewed from nearly any device—desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The 24/7 availability to information gives the modern CFO timely insights that can help the company remove obstacles to growth, reduce risk, and seize important opportunities.

Technology is accelerating business at a headlong pace. Today’s CFO needs to stay ahead of the curve to stay relevant and propel their company toward even greater success and growth.