CFOs Urged to Embrace Technology for Business Growth

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By Emma Okonji

The Regional Senior Director, East and West Africa Applications Sales at Oracle, Tamer Farouk, has stressed the need for Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) of various organisations to adopt latest Information Technology (IT) solutions to enhance business growth in their organisations.

Farouk in a statement, said innovations in financial IT solutions were opening several opportunities for finance decision-makers in Africa, but that realising the full value of these innovations would require leadership and vision.

Making reference to an earlier announcement made this year by the financial platform service of M-Pesa in Kenya, that it has more than 20.5 million active users and over 27 million subscribers across Africa, Farouk said: “the figure represents an important milestone for the continent and demonstrates the importance that innovations can have, not only on financial systems but also on the broader society.”

According to him, going by the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, and Big Data Analytics, businesses could be faced with an even broader array of innovations that would disrupt existing business models and potentially open previously unforeseen opportunities.
The impact that these technologies will have on finance departments and decision-makers in organisations across the region, he said, remained profound and finance leaders would come under mounting pressure to come up with a vision of how best to realise the value of these innovations within their respective organisations.

Kenya and Nigeria are leading the way in East and West Africa when it comes to leveraging emerging technologies to drive innovation, while countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana are following a similar path as they pursue their own digital transformation journeys, Farouk said.

According to him, “The progress is not restricted only to banking and financial institutions, with organisations across a broad spectrum of industries now using advanced technologies and intelligent Enterprise Resource Application (ERP) applications to automate their finance processes and operations.

“The Edo State Government had to standardise and automate its manual and error-prone business processes. Part of this entailed enabling more efficient and transparent tax collection and budgeting. As a result, it implemented a cloud-based ERP solution that integrated its applications and unified its system environment that resulted in a 90 per cent acceleration of reporting and 60 per cent improvement of core business processes.

“CFOs are under tremendous pressure to align with different business units while providing the required strategic and financial guidance.”
He said given the proliferation of advanced and scalable business applications, much of the modern CFOs’ focus is on automating mundane tasks so they can free up bandwidth and become more involved in strategic engagements that help the organisation to achieve its goals.
Farouk, however, said technology would represent a great opportunity to expand financial services, and CFOs have a major role to play in defining the strategy and business direction of their organisations.

He cited a recent study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) in East and West Africa, where 26 per cent of the respondents identified the CFO as having an important role to play in supporting their organisations’ overall digital transformation initiatives.

In line with this, the responsibility for driving innovation is increasingly being shared by CFOs, whereas previously this was considered the preserve of CEOs and CIOs, Farouk said.

Organisations across East and West Africa are gradually speeding up their digital transformation efforts, with more and more businesses across Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Ghana leveraging technology to disrupt their markets, particularly in the banking and financial sector, Farouk added.