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Five Minutes on Modern Finance: New Thinking on Ways to Create Value and Measure Finance Effectiveness

John O'Rouke and Karen Dale Torre


Since the early 1990s, CFOs have been benchmarking traditional finance functions such as how fast a company could close its books, or reduce its DSO - or Days Sales Outstanding - rate. Getting into the top quartile was the Holy Grail for most, and evidence that they were at the helm of a high-performing finance function.

With the advent of disruptive technologies such as mobile, big data, predictive analytics, and new cloud and social computing platforms, CFOs are quickly recognizing that the way they create value has changed, and so must the finance benchmarks associated with those value creation mechanisms. These were just some of the key findings of the real-time surveys conducted at the 2013 Oracle Chief Financial Officer Summit, part of the Leaders Circle events at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco. The 2013 CFO Summit, hosted by Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley and sponsored by Accenture, brought together 190+ senior finance executives from around the world to discuss the growing role of CFOs in driving transformational change in an increasingly disruptive global economy.

The real-time surveys sought to validate new research by Oracle and Accenture on the evolution of finance organizations from more traditional finance and oversight functions, to a more strategic role that places finance at the very heart of business strategy and value creation. David Axson, a Managing Director of Finance & Enterprise Performance in Accenture's Management Consulting practice, kicked off the survey process in his keynote by asking CFO Summit attendees about their plans to create value by leveraging emerging technologies, and whether they felt emerging technologies were influencing the need to develop new best practices to measure finance effectiveness.

"I wasn't surprised by the survey findings around emerging technologies driving value creation," Axson noted. "What was interesting was how finance viewed emerging technologies as enablers of specific value creation strategies." For example, 43.3 percent of senior finance executives felt that emerging technologies would support their growth initiatives. The rest were divided between the impact that emerging technologies would have on improving their competitive position (26.7 percent) and improving customer interactions (21.7 percent).

Axson was also interested in how senior finance executives viewed the disruptive impact of emerging technologies on finance best practices. Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed agreed that the use of emerging technologies will lead them to reconsider or introduce new best practices, especially in areas such as cloud adoption and the use of predictive analytics and big data to improve planning and forecasting. To help CFOs in these areas, Oracle and Accenture are launching a new series on finance best practices entitled "Five Minutes on Modern Finance". Look for the best practice guides and new global research commissioned by Oracle and Accenture on the attributes of the modern finance organization coming in February 2014 on Oracle C-Central.

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