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Finance’s critical role in the Cognitive Enterprise evolution
Exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and automation have sparked the next wave in enterprise transformation, offering both challenges and opportunities for the enterprise. These technology advances are the catalyst for another sea change in business architecture design and a new era for the enterprise. Now is the time to build a Cognitive Enterprise that embraces technology to leverage its unique assets and execute a platform model supported by ecosystem partnerships.
The CFO and finance organization have a strategic role to play as stewards of the data, algorithms of measurements, and validation of benefits, and thereby determining the success criteria for any Cognitive Enterprise initiative. The finance organization must also lead the way in transforming its own operational processes, curating proprietary data and reinventing its workforce to deliver on the expectations for real-time insights, on-the-spot forecasts and all-encompassing foresight. CFOs who accept the challenge can help their organizations grow, manage risk and ultimately achieve sustainable competitive advantage.
The finance opportunity in the Cognitive Enterprise
According to the 2018 IBM Global C-suite Study, 74 percent of CFOs cite existential threats of some kind to their enterprise’s current business model. Well over half of that 74 percent say their organizations face threats from competitors using innovative technologies or approaches.¹ As a result, more organizations expect to continuously experiment and capitalize on new opportunities – often in tandem with other entities.
Two-thirds of CFOs surveyed for our C-suite study confirm that their agenda includes taking an active role in developing strategy, driving growth, reducing costs, managing risks and providing insights. Yet, approximately half of CFOs report their finance organizations aren’t as effective as they need to be.² Finance needs to engage and weigh in much faster on emerging opportunities. Meaningful business partnerships and alignment shape this new paradigm, with a degree of responsiveness enabled by improved curation and analysis of integrated enterprise and environmental data.
CFOs see participation in business platforms as a critical enabler to realize new opportunities, combat threats and transform the core of their business models. The role of CFO and the finance organization in supporting the Cognitive Enterprise transformation is to define the success criteria for these business platforms, recognizing that measurements are different and can cut across enterprise silos, supplier and business partner networks, and even broader in their industry.
The finance organization is the steward of the data, algorithms, metrics and benchmarks for the Cognitive Enterprise, and accordingly, it needs to assess the capital allocations in these platforms as strategic investments that will have material impact on the enterprise’s results. As such, the CFO and the finance organization will play a leading role in the Cognitive Enterprise transformation, with a particular focus on the following imperatives:
–Re-engineer workflows to use cognitive capabilities, along with other technologies, to deliver solutions where and when needed.
–Curate proprietary data actively to capitalize on opportunities for monetization or competitive advantage.
–Reinvent the workforce proactively, creating a knowledgeable, agile, collaborative and empowered team to lead the organization into the future.
The finance organization itself is also a beneficiary of these exponential technologies and can lead the way in adopting these imperatives within its operations. The need for real-time insights, on-the-spot forecasts and all-encompassing foresight in ongoing operations has been accentuated with pervasive connectivity and customer expectations driving the Digital Reinvention™️, the advent of the Cognitive Enterprise and a “new collar” workforce. In this report, we describe how finance organizations can adopt the above imperatives in their operations and help build a Cognitive Enterprise.
¹“Elevate your enterprise: CFO Perspectives from the Global C-suite Study.” IBM Institute for Business Value. June 2018. ibm.com/services/insights/c-suite-study/cfo
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