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The Continuing Challenges of CFO as CXO

For many executives, the high-growth and innovation-driven models of the recovery are often hampered by the legacy organizations of the down-sized Great Recession workforce.  I’ve written and spoken on this topic for a few years now, whereby Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are often working across multiple functional lines of IT, Marketing, Human Resources, and other administrative areas including Finance.  So in this case these CFOs are functioning more as CXOs – with multiple functional executive responsibilities in the organization, much akin to playing simultaneous positions on an international football team (what we Americans call soccer) or on a hockey team (think of this as always being on defense in a power play).  Until the organizations can grow to a critical mass size to re-allocate or position new executive talent into these responsibilities, this is the continuing reality for many companies.

Recently at the CRM 2014 conference, I was asked during an interview with Butch Stearns from the Customer Edge how this CXO predicament impacts marketing.  During one client engagement, I worked with the CFO (CXO) to determine the best digital strategy to drive customer and company outcomes.  What was interesting is how eager the CFO was to play a more active role inside of Marketing, but how poorly adept that marketing team was in terms of executing campaign strategies leveraging digital IT approaches without proper IT support.  So while a company may be pooling its executive insight across a number of functions, in this case the shift to new digital customer engagement models provided a need to grow and enable the organization skills and talents where there currently lay a shortfall.  In addition it was clear without the synergies between IT and marketing, the program would never achieve lift off velocity.

While market forces change and growth models mature, IT still need to collaborate with cross-functions and particularly more so now that the CXO leader continues to wield broad responsibility.  Line of Business leaders have found frustrations with IT departments in the past, either through poor communication skills and culture which prove historically difficult to partner with creating barriers.  Not surprisingly, the best collaborations continue to be those where line of business leaders can work with the CFO to ensure proper financial alignment of business outcomes, while IT leaders provide the tools and technologies to enable those business outcomes, often through innovation and disruption.  The key is to ensure greater transparency and tighter integration across the CXO domain with a constant focus on developing the right customer engagement strategies to promote the brand while ensuring operational effectiveness.

Please enjoy my full interview, including more on Big Data and some key success factors, below and available on the CustomerEdgeTV channel on YouTube.

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      Author's profile photo Tim Teinzer
      Tim Teinzer

      Great blog post and video! And thanks for linking to my football/soccer article... happy to see how it can be linked to your thoughts about the CFO role.

      Best regards,