Last week I had the pleasure of attending the CFO Alliance’s inaugural roundtable in San Francisco. The CFO Alliance hosts its roundtable series in multiple cities across North America every quarter, but this was its first event in the Bay Area. Xactly wrote about the 2017 CFO Sentiment Study findings earlier this year. According to the sentiment survey, CFOs consider the following four factors as critical to their company success in 2017:
- Adding the right talent across the organization
- Expanding relationships with existing customers
- Marketing execution
- Operational efficiency
The roundtable provided deeper insights and understanding about how these four issues impact today’s CFOs. Following are my top takeaways.
Talent is at the Forefront
If you don’t have the right people in the right jobs, the rest doesn’t matter. Talent is at the forefront of everything. It’s not an HR problem – it’s everyone’s problem. To contribute to the employee experience, the office of the CFO must take a more active role in ongoing training and development across the organization. According to Nick Araco, chairman and co-founder of The CFO Alliance, this requires more soft skills than CFOs have needed in the past. Perhaps nowhere are these soft skills more critical than working with millennials. Nick said the millennial generation was a hot topic in all of the roundtable markets. Millennials represent a huge portion of the workforce; learning how to work with them must be an Executive priority. What are the best practices? When it comes to millennials, set expectations properly. If you’re hiring a millennial, find out why they want to work for you to make sure there’s alignment. Millennials want a sense of mission and to understand what’s meaningful in their work.
Higher Customer Expectations
By creating and measuring a connection between the employee experience and the customer experience, companies can grow faster. The customer relationship has changed. Subscription-based solutions change the delivery method and real-time availability of solutions, goods, and services. In the process, it makes the path from company to customer more direct but also lowers the need for engagement. As a result, cultivating the customer relationship has become even more important. The more time that finance can spend with customers, the better that they can understand their problems and mindset.
Apply Ruthless Automation
Xactly couldn’t agree more with the event’s guest speaker Indy Bains, senior director, Global ERP Cloud at Oracle. Indy said that companies must be ruthless about applying automation – and eliminating wasted time spent on manual processes. You need operational efficiency to get to operational agility. If you haven’t optimized efficiency, you can’t be agile. Five hours spent working on a spreadsheet is not only inefficient but also prone to error. At Xactly, we’ve found that 98% of our customers using spreadsheets to manage sales compensation processes had errors. With greater efficiencies, CFOs can go beyond the day-to-day blocking and tackling to bring more value to their team. By leveraging the cloud as a vehicle to achieve greater efficiencies, finance leaders can be proactive instead of reactive.
More Funding Allocated to Sales and Marketing
According to the 2017 CFO Sentiment Study, if CFOs were given $1 million to invest in the talent at their organization, over 40% surveyed said would heavily allocate to hire sales and marketing professionals. This was 19% higher than other areas. Additionally, if CFOs were given $1 million in additional budget, 40% would allocate funds to sales and marketing. Why sales and marketing? CFOs realize the importance of sales and marketing execution to the bottom line and are more willing than ever to allocate money to drive top line performance. By driving change that can increase revenue, profitability, or cash flow, CFOs bring value to the business. It’s not just technology keeping CFOs up at night. So much transformation has occurred in our world that it’s easy for the office of the CFO to fall behind. Moving forward in the age of digital requires that finance leaders take a larger role and help drive right balance between people, processes, and technology within their own organizations. We’re excited that the CFO Alliance has added the San Francisco Bay Area as a destination for its roundtable series and look forward its next topic, the “Optimization of Human Capital,” on June 7, 2017.