3 questions to smart minds

CFO — the Lord of Big Data

For this 3 questions to Christina Johansson

BOOKER Indus­tries
Photo: Chris­tina Johansson
27. Octo­ber 2017

The digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion is chan­ging ever­y­day life in more and more compa­nies. The uphe­avals are serious, but their impact is still unde­re­sti­ma­ted far too often. While certain sectors, such as tele­com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons or media, have alre­ady under­gone funda­men­tal change, others, such as corpo­rate finance, are only just begin­ning. You can read Chris­tina Johansson’s detailed author article on this highly topi­cal subject in the new FYB 2018 issue. It will be published in mid-November.

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to Chief Finan­cial Offi­cer (CFO) at BUCHER Indus­tries in Zurich (Switz­er­land)

1. How exactly should we imagine the chan­ges brought about by the advent of digitization?

Digi­tiza­tion does not replace a successful core busi­ness, but supports it. Leading compa­nies ther­e­fore under­stand digi­tal busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion as a change process in which the exis­ting (core) busi­ness is profi­ta­bly deve­lo­ped further by incre­asing custo­mer value through the use of inno­va­tive busi­ness models and digi­tal tech­no­lo­gies. This requi­res, on the one hand, knowing the needs of custo­mers as precis­ely as possi­ble (keyword Big Data) and, on the other hand, being able to correctly assess and use the possi­bi­li­ties of digi­tal tech­no­logy. And this is precis­ely where leaders like the CFO must see their new role in a company — digi­tiza­tion means actively driving trans­for­ma­tion, setting prio­ri­ties, and effi­ci­ently allo­ca­ting resour­ces and priorities.

2. What is chan­ging for the CFO?

The sali­ent features are the acce­le­ra­tion of change, the virtua­liza­tion of compa­nies, and that busi­ness models are beco­ming incre­asingly unsta­ble. The company’s posi­tion in the value chain is chan­ging ever faster and requi­res flexi­bi­lity. This means that the reve­nue streams are only stable in the short term. Diffe­ren­tia­tion from others is beco­ming incre­asingly diffi­cult, new compe­ti­tors are emer­ging at short notice, and disrup­tion stra­te­gies are beco­ming commonplace.

3. What does the new role for the CFO look like in concrete terms?

The funda­men­tal chan­ges in the frame­work condi­ti­ons require the CFO to stron­gly adapt his mind­set and orien­ta­tion to a life with incre­asing uncer­tainty and ever-shor­tening cycles. The extra­ver­ted (envi­ron­ment) view must be weigh­ted much more heavily than the intro­ver­ted view (company). Finding and analy­zing new reve­nue streams beco­mes the core task. There is a much grea­ter demand for proac­tive manage­ment of the new data streams, active shaping of the digi­tiza­tion process, high flexi­bi­lity and perma­nent resource optimization.

Not to forget, a high level of social compe­tence in deal­ing with the “victims” of digi­tiza­tion and trans­for­ma­tion are beco­ming incre­asingly important. The CFO is repo­si­tio­ning hims­elf in the role of the “Lord of Big Data,” the proac­tive shaper and user of data streams.

About Chris­tina Johansson

Born 1966, Swiss and Swedish citi­zen, Masters Degree in Busi­ness Admi­nis­tra­tion, addi­tio­nal degree in English and German Studies, Univer­sity of Växjö/Lund, Sweden; CFO since Octo­ber 2016.

2014 Tech­nics Group, Zurich, CFO; 2007 Pöyry Energy and Manage­ment Consul­ting Busi­ness Group, Zurich, Vice Presi­dent Finance; 2005 Zeag Group, Sprei­ten­bach, CFO; 1996 Amcor Rentsch & Closures Group, Ricken­bach, various senior finance func­tions; 1993 Secu­ri­tas Group, Frank­furt, Germany, Finan­cial Control­ler and Treasury Manager

Other acti­vi­ties:
Member of the Board of Direc­tors Opti­kart AG, Wangen b.O.

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