Tata Consultancy Services: The digital CFO - Syed Rizvi

Syed Rizvi, vice-president of BPO at Tata Consultancy Services, provides his views on the 'Digital CFO'.

How have you seen the role of the CFO change over the years?

Syed Rizvi: The CFOs role today is mainly around resource and capital allocation for profitable businesses. CFOs are building end-to-end visibility on product lines and revenues, profitability and cost, trying to understand the way global enterprises are structured - by product line and function.

How much of a need is there for an organisation to be agile?

Agility is very important for a CFO organization. Any business of significant size and scale will be working towards making its organization agile. Some serious impediments exist in transforming an organization to be agile. It requires a change in thought process, a change in the underlying technology architecture, a change in how to approach the market. The internal changes are what prevent organisations from adapting end-to-end. But any organisation of a significant size will all have some form of agility-led transformation currently happening in their businesses.

What role does technology play in making an organization more agile and what are some of the pitfalls CFOs fall into when trying to introduce new technology?

The pitfalls tend to occur when the traditional structures within an organisation get challenged. This is because the structures around command and control and power or structures around outcomes become outdated. The organization is not aligned with the changes in the market. Organizations are internally geared towards cost, whereas externally the market is concerned with asset under management. This creates dichotomies in the measurement process, the incentives process, the technology structure, the review structure, and in the control and command structure of the organization. And these are either individually or collectively, pitfalls that CFOs need to navigate in a changing environment.

And to what extent do you think CFOs embrace the latest technology?

I think CFOs, CIOs and CEOs as a combination need to embrace technology across the spectrum. Technology is changing, whether it's digitisation of processes, end-to-end ERPs, cloud, or any form of virtualisation. Even if the adoption rate remains low for the next three years, we are going to see a massive change in how CFOs adopt technology. My hypothesis is that FTE-driven finance function in the next three to five years will be vaporised. By that I mean high automation will drive FTEs out of the finance function and they will only remain relevant only in areas of control, strategic planning and budgeting. Transactional processes and FTE-driven finance functions will be taken over by technology.

To what extent do you think analytics should be viewed as part of the wider finance strategy?

With the increasing availability of data, analytics need to be embedded in every part of the organization. The finance enterprise of the future will need to have analytics at each stage of the finance process. The amount of data that is becoming available allows organizations to make much more forward-looking decisions if people are able to look at the right sets of data. The number of options that analytics throws up is something that is increasing every day. Organizations that don't embrace analytics will very soon find themselves out of sync with the larger organizations and their customers.



For further information, please read 'Automating the F&A function: eight areas of impact' by clicking here.

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Syed Rizvi, vice-president of BPO at Tata Consultancy Services.