Digital Transformation from the perspective of a CFO – Part 1


Who is best placed to lead the Digital Transformation (DX) project? -  One person cannot deliver the project... but one person can wreck it!

The project leader must be a well-respected individual within the organisation, and must have executive support from a board director, ideally a CFO, CIO, COO or CTO, although there are potential flaws with all:

  • CFOs have a day job, so business as usual (BAU) can consume them, and in a sense they are conflicted, as one of the objectives of DX is business intelligence (BI), and CFOs can be prickly about the ownership of business insights! So separating a CFO from a BI project is a good thing, it creates segregation of duty around one of the most valuable assets a company owns - information.
  • CTOs tend to be more customer-facing, and therefore have a more consultative skillset that doesn't tend to lend itself to operational delivery.
  • CIOs are the most obvious choice.
  • COOs could also be a good choice, as they have the operational discipline and commercial rigour, albeit they can lack technical vision.

It is imperative the DX project has the full support of the CEO, the wider Board, and key shareholders. A project of this nature needs a big commitment from the company and patience is required as it will consume a lot of resources, and patience, before any value is created.

So why bother?

If you get it right, a lot of shareholder wealth can be created from a successful DX project.

Your DX project should achieve four strategic objectives:

  1. Cost - reduce cost to serve/streamline operations.
  2. Quality - improve consistency and the quality of processes (get it right first time).
  3. Insights - Provide management information to managers and share insights so there is only one version of the truth available (eradicate data terrorists, instead of providing oxygen to their fire).
  4. Customer Value - create value in customer (internal and external) engagements, make transacting business easier and stickier, provide transparency, enhance brand value and enable innovation.

As consumers, we are demanding excellent digital services because organisations such as Amazon, Netflix and Revolut deliver this to us daily. B2C is creating high expectations for B2B, and as a result, we are growing frustrated with those organisations that can't keep up.

This B2C experience is also determining the path for our B2B engagements, and we are now demanding a similar level of service in our B2B relationships. This, coupled with working from home and Bring Your Own Device trends, means we demand access to our apps and data whenever, wherever and however we want.

Authentic DX, not a veneer wrap

DX needs to run deep within the business and ideally should be bottom-up, touching all core operations and processes. Some companies deploy DX solutions purely as a clumsy bolt-on, a customer-facing vanity strategy, and a marketing exercise… however, customers will very quickly see through this thin veneer!

To present yourself as a DX pioneer, you need to be authentic. If your core operations have genuinely been re-engineered and streamlined through a DX project, exposing this to your customers and interacting with them in a high-quality digital manner becomes a natural extension of what you do.

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