Chief financial officers (CFOs) can’t approach innovation as just another IT project, said Brett StClair, head of digital products at Barclays Africa.
StClair delivered the CFO Talks keynote address at theUNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership(UNISA SBL) this morning. Industry analysts, academics and CFOs gathered at the third instalment of this year’s CFO networking event to discuss the impact of technology on business and how the CFO should respond.
CFO Talks is an initiative designed to unpack the role of the CFO in an environment where emerging technologies are changing the way established businesses operate, as well as fast-track the learning experience for CFOs.
According to StClair, organisations need to allow the flow of learning. “The impact of innovation is driven around how we fund technology and on top of that is the culture that we are unlocking.”
In terms of adopting technology within the organisation, CFOs must get the culture and funding models right, he stated.
“The challenges for innovation within the organisation are massive, but the opportunities are also huge.”
Dr Renosi Mokate, executive director and CEO of UNISA SBL, said digitisation teaches that technology is important and enables collaboration across the enterprise.
She explained: “The global society is starting to experience the coming together of technological forces and trends that will change the world around us and we are already seeing that. Concepts such as cloud computing, mobility, big data and analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics are all starting to converge and create the perfect digital storm.
“Leveraging all these technologies will be what sets enterprises apart from each other.”
Although the CIO is thought to be at the forefront of advances within an organisation, Mokate advised the job should not be left to the CIO only.
“The scope of the impact of technology is much wider and needs to be dealt with by a variety of people in the organisation.
“Harnessing these technologies for your organisation is so important that one person or one department should not be the only ones that oversee it. The CFO is actually directly involved as well,” she continued.
Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx MD, concluded that the role of the CFO is not going away and won’t change dramatically, but CFOs need to embrace change. “If they [CFOs] do not embrace changes brought on by technology, they are going to be left behind by those that do.”