finance innovation


- 4 min read

Unlocking innovation: The CFO’s blueprint to a future-ready financial landscape

For the modern CFO, innovation is now synonymous with expectations of the role. They’re increasingly tasked with driving strategic growth and navigating unforeseen challenges, demanding a shift from traditional number-crunching to proactive innovation. This includes leveraging powerful tools that drive agility, flexibility, and collaboration.

Microsoft recently published the 2023 Future of Finance Trends Report that shows 80% of finance leaders believe they’re being increasingly challenged to add value beyond their traditional responsibilities. Some 79% believe they and their teams must play a significant role in driving business innovation and overall business transformation.

We’ve previously discussed using the cloud to reduce costs and as the foundation of a platform for innovation. Of course, the path to innovation, whether for the CFO or an organization, requires several components to be successful. Planning is one such component, with businesses needing to adopt a “more intelligent approach” supported by a platform at the center of innovation. But what is this platform? Why is it important, and what value does it bring to the CFO?

A wise CFO understands innovation isn’t just a cost – it’s a continuous investment in the organization’s future and critical to the business. Indeed, with the right approach, innovation can:

  • push the boundaries of what’s possible, not just from a technology standpoint but also in redefining business functions
  • elevate an organization’s reputation
  • result in product or service improvements that provide unique and differentiated value to customers and partners
  • drive improvements in an organization’s key performance metrics, including financial performance, risk, customer satisfaction, productivity, ESG scores, and others
  • attract a dynamic, adaptable, and motivated workforce that leads with a growth mindset
  • validate and shape an organization’s understanding of emerging technologies and methodologies, including when and, more importantly, when “not” to use these approaches, along with any associated risks (generative AI and current concerns around data privacy, IP protection, and output accuracy are great examples of topics that fall into this category)

We understand the need for innovation among our customers and partners. Planning, often viewed as a static process, has changed. Organizations that are not innovating in planning solutions and processes are already behind. The world has become increasingly unpredictable, supply chains constantly shift, and customer sentiment changes in a heartbeat. Failing to rapidly adapt to these disruptions through agile and innovative planning approaches negatively affects the bottom line, something a CFO is obviously keen to avoid.

Enter the discussion on modern planning technologies. This need to innovate rapidly in response to constantly changing conditions is one of the reasons why organizations are shifting from “black box” technology products designed for one or two use cases to open platforms that can address various problems across the organization.

Innovation does not just occur in one area of the business, nor can an organization predict all future problems that must be solved. A product designed and built to handle one category of use cases is insufficient. While it may solve problems in one area, it will struggle outside of this “silo.” In the database world, this is equivalent to using one type of database (e.g. relational) to solve all data-related problems. While some problems are addressed, other problems are met with sub-optimal results. Implementing separate technology silos for each business problem also adds to the overall complexity of the IT environment:

  • Multiple systems need to be integrated.
  • Data between these systems needs to be transformed.
  • Business logic becomes fragmented.
  • Users need to learn multiple tools, and maintenance/support costs spike.

Comparatively, today’s modern planning technologies provide a cloud-based, platform-centric approach. Built from the ground up to support multiple use cases, these platforms provide the building blocks to drive innovative solutions across the enterprise. At Board, this means including capabilities for data capture/transformation, integration, reporting, planning, rich visualizations, collaboration, workflow, business logic, calculations, and many more. These are all built on a solid foundation in the cloud and designed to scale securely to large amounts of data and users. This approach provides several benefits, including the ability to:

  • leverage data from any source, in any format—data is the lifeblood of any business and a key input for innovation
  • retrieve and combine this data with other information, including insights derived from machine learning, multi-modal Generative AI, and large language models
  • extend the platform with capabilities from “anywhere,” allowing external functions to be easily added or removed as technology and tools evolve—closed software products lock you into a specific technology and provide fewer extension points and interfaces
  • support innovation across multiple use cases or business domains via a single technical foundation
  • provide transparency and visibility into decisions and results—open platforms offer visibility into the “why” (e.g. why a particular ML model was used) as opposed to closed software products that follow the “just trust me” approach
  • enable non-technical users to rapidly create the applications they need with a low-code/no-code approach

Not all innovation activities will be successful, but with the right approach and an open platform, such as Board as the foundation, you will see more successes than failures. And remember that while innovation is difficult, the reward can be substantial. Today, CFOs can become true collaborators for innovation, and leveraging open platforms is one piece of the puzzle. Innovation is not just a concept; it’s the roadmap to a resilient, future-ready financial landscape. As CFOs, your leadership in this journey is pivotal. Embrace the change, unlock new potentials, and redefine the future of finance!

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