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William Fuessler, Financial Transformation Leader, IBM Global Business Services

William Fuessler, Financial Transformation Leader, IBM Global Business Services

By William Fuessler

I have always loved the finance profession, and thrived on the challenging nature of the business.

No two days, no two weeks, or two months are ever the same.

Change is virtually the only constant in today’s business. Within the past decade, the rising forces of digitization, globalization and Big Data have accelerated the pace of change and have made the landscape fiercely more competitive.

Having an intimate view of the business, finance leaders have access and insight over details large and small related to business unit performance, costs, trends in customer growth and paths to innovation. They know the peaks and valleys, the risks and rewards, and what’s working, and what’s not.

Armed with this insight, finance leaders have the power to extend their influence over decisions related to a broad set of priorities related to corporate spend, new product development, customer growth strategies, R&D, HR/talent investments, and acquisition strategies just to name a few areas. 

But knowing the business isn’t sufficient anymore. Maintaining the financial integrity of the business is a given. To stay ahead, CFOs need to nimbly anticipate and respond to change. The winners can proactively influence business strategy and predict certain outcomes.

Today we are convening a forum with an esteemed group of 100 CFOs and CIOs in NYC to discuss the evolving role of the CFO, the role that technology, process, data and skills play in the enterprise, and the threats and opportunities associated with Big Data and advanced analytics. I am excited to engage in a dialogue with my finance and IT peers about the future of my function, something I care deeply about.

This much is clear: we are at an inflection point – and the CFO’s role is on the verge of change. It’s not about keeping score and analyzing the past – but about having the headlights and insight to capture the growth opportunities that matter. The recent IBM IBV CFO Study has found that CFOs who excel at both using analytics for business insight and driving finance efficiency continue to outperform their peers across all phases of the economic cycle.

The CFO can be the pacesetter to bring the discipline of the back office to the front office. The true change agents will drive business model innovation to drive a continuous cycle of transformation. That’s the shining promise, power and potential of the profession in the future.

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