Make no mistake, it’s a face-off that pits corporate finance leaders, the back-office number-crunching set – who at times seem more like nerdy comic book figures than true strategy-minded captains of industry – against a ticking clock intent on rendering the latest class of finance leaders irrelevant.
You may recall that in our last post, we argued that many CFOs are being handed a Growth Ultimatum – sort of a statement of terms – that their seat at the strategy table is up for grabs unless they can demonstrate that they are not only managing costs, but also driving growth.
CFOs have realized that their ultimate adversary in the new age of growth is irrelevancy. The rules have changed: Finance leaders need more than accounting technical knowledge and back-office smarts. To thwart the perception that they are not a dinosaur, finance leaders must create some buzz.
Many CFOs began casting about for compelling strategies, a quest that has led many to explore and often champion The Seven Roles of the CFO – the seven paths to transforming finance that late management thinker Jeremy Hope carefully outlined in his 2007 text Reinventing the CFO.
Seven years after Reinventing’s timely publication, none of Hope’s “Seven Roles” has arguably been enough to forestall the prevailing notion that CFOs have little to do when it comes to driving growth. And so, with all due respect to the Seven Roles, it appears that an Eighth Role may be in order.
The Eighth Role of the CFO: Champion of Customer Success
To respond to the growth ultimatum, finance leaders now need to break out of the back office – and hatch a strategy that could redefine their firms’ finance function and collectively reimagine the role of finance in industry at large. To cast their dilemma in comic book terms, they need a magic ring.
It turns out that they have the makings of one right under their nose. The banter surrounding “customer success” has been building for some time. In the late 1990s, the newly labeled SaaS industry first coined the term to umbrella the practices they use to measure customer interaction. However, while SaaS companies have championed Customer Success for more than 17 years, the rapid adoption of CS tenants beyond the SaaS realm is a rather recent development – and one of which Jeremy Hope would undoubtedly have taken notice.
What’s new here? CFOs are discovering that the ability to measure the customer experience is their magic ring – a wide assortment of customer-centric metrics has begun to provide finance leaders with a penetrating “front office” view easily fashioned into a virtual cockpit for driving growth.
Thus, the Growth CFO is born.
PS: Attend this CFO Thought Leader Webinar and Win a Magic Ring!
(Seriously, we believe you’ll find this webinar of interest, and hope you’ll attend)
Register HERE: Rewiring Finance to Achieve Customer Success
Other Posts By Jack Sweeney