Traditionally, the role of the CFO has always been more comparable to someone focused on crunching the numbers with more focus on history – generating reports about the past through business processes. Today, if you are a CFO, the focus has turned to strategy by analysing both current and future growth prospects in order to have a more holistic view of operations and market development by being aligned with your customers, products while at the same time increasing value.
Post the pandemic, technology will play a central role in improving business processes according to the Manufacturing CFO 4.0 2021inaugural Survey done in collaboration between SYSPRO and the Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Kenya (ICPAK).
When CFOs were asked how their business had diversified as a result of the pandemic, 31% said they had invested in technology that resulted in improved productivity/efficiency.
The survey noted that most of the CFOs who were eager to diversify largely favored Enterprise Technologies, with 70% committing to taking on BI, ERP, ERM, and related systems.
“Expectedly, the re-engineering of supply chains to improve business-to-business (B2B) trading comes in at number two, with 58% earmarking its importance. This is a natural result of Kenya’s dependency on raw materials for Food & Beverage production.” reads the report in part.
The CFOs also indicated that investing in robotics and SMART technology to increase automation was a key priority for them in addition to automating the warehouse and advanced manufacturing processes.
“ICT adoption has been identified as a key factor that can increase the competitiveness of Kenya’s manufacturing sector within both local and export markets. However, there is need to have a workforce with the knowledge and skill to implement the relevant technologies. Access to the latest technology solutions and financial resources to acquire these technologies are also indispensable. It is therefore clear that, to grow the manufacturing sector, the level of automation must be increased, and appropriate technical skills must be developed in this time of innovation and adaption.” says Mark Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, SYSPRO EMEA&I.
The scope of Kenya’s next few years shows an impending pivot away from current policies. Kenya and The East African region clearly has an eye for innovation, with 97% of those businesses who did diversify stipulating that these new initiatives will be supported past the pandemic.
The report also shows that ERP is enjoying a positive response in Kenya, with 44% of those surveyed expressing a desire to invest and migrate asBusiness Intelligence trails just behind at 38%.
As an effective digital managerial tool, ERP enables its users the ability to not only confidently pivot in times of crisis and streamline the efficiency of their operations.
“This is particularly invaluable to Kenya given the importance of raw goods and materials to a primarily Food & Beverage producing region struggling with global supply chain issues. While ERP is not able to magically resolve tumultuous trading, it does consolidate important data in real-time, expediting faster decision-making.” reads the report.
The role of today’s CFO
The concurrence on modern CFO skills in Kenya is in line with the global perspective with the pandemic having served as a valuable lesson on the importance of risk management and an aptitude for business strategy.
It is not suprising that Kenyan CFOs recognize these same skills as the keys to success. When asked where they believe the investment into the modern CFO 4.0 skills and competencies need to develop to ensure business remains competetive, 76% of the CFOs said accurate insights into risk management as the main skill needed for future CFOs. Furthermore, 53% of the respondents said digitalization and automation in manufacturing as one of the most important skills.
Without technology, digital transformation is not possible, and the finance department will not be ready and well equipped to meet the current and longterm challenges of the business.
In conclusion, the CFO of today needs to embrace innovation and arm the finance team with the right tools to improve and increase effectiveness.