CFOs: Ready to Become Technology Evangelists?

By Nick Roquefort-Villeneuve, Global Marketing Director – Amalto Technologies

Amalto-Technology-EvangelistTechnology is changing at an exponential pace, and yet there are still Fortune 100 companies that seem to be living in some form of technological stone age. I attended a conference last week, and I was quite surprised to hear that some of the wealthiest corporations in the United States are still in the process of migrating their data to the cloud. Well, should I truly be surprised, when learning that those same businesses currently manage parts of their order-to-cash processes manually…? I guess not. What’s truly staggering though is that while they’re busy dealing with the cloud, the talk is all about Blockchain technology and how Blockchain is already making centralized cloud infrastructures obsolete. But it’s not only about Blockchain, it’s also about Artificial Intelligence, Industrial Augmented Reality, Industrial Internet of Things, Big Data, Machine Learning, you name it!

The question I’m asking myself and you guys is quite simple. Today, can anyone afford to remain hermetic to technological changes? Is that even an option? What does it mean for you, whether you’re a CFO, Operations Director, or AR Manager? Let’s explore together.

Promote New Technologies in the Workplace

The late Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “Ignorance is always afraid of change.” To some, ignorance feels safe because it obstructs all possibilities for change. Buy isn’t it a false sense of safety though?

I remember quite a dreadful golf game a few years back in Las Vegas, when I had to share my cart with a gentleman who, once I had told him I was in high-tech, couldn’t stop complaining about the multiple dysfunctions the automation software he had approved for his casino resort in town hadn’t resorbed. Ruffled by a triple-bogey on a par 3 and needing to focus on my game, I decided to ask him a question, hoping it would kill the somewhat distracting conversation.

- Why don’t you go back to the drawing board, gather all your requirements, list all those dysfunctions you have yet to eliminate, and shop around for a much more robust solution?

- Nah, it’s doing the job just fine!

This finance Executive bluntly refused to endorse one of the core aspects of his role, which was to ensure his organization had the best tool at its disposal, so processes would be fully automated, human intervention quasi-eliminated, DSO decreased, and the bottom-line improved. I interpreted the situation as his refusal to be an intrinsic partner within his organization by rejecting the idea of learning about higher-end technologies that would ultimately drive innovation and the success of the business. In other words, he refused to become a technology evangelist within the organization. And nowadays, is that truly a responsibility a CFO, Operations Director, or AR Manager can even afford to neglect? Remember that the competition doesn’t wait for you to act or react…

How Can You Become a Technology Evangelist?

First off, what is a technology evangelist? Here is the definition: “A technology evangelist is an advocate or champion for more productive and efficient technology-enabled functions.” In other words, a technology evangelist needs to promote those tools that streamline, standardize and automate processes.

Whether you’ve received a call from your CIO or CTO suggesting you check out a solution or you’ve done your own research, the result is the same: You need to promote the technology to all parties that will be involved in one way or another. Thus, your role goes far beyond the day-to-day scope of managing the corporation’s finances or operations. You become a corporate-wide ambassador of better technology-based practices, and part of your job is to rally colleagues behind your views.

Naturally, some work is needed beforehand. For example, as a CFO you must understand not only what the current technology landscape is, but especially what tomorrow’s technology applied to your field or your needs will be. In introduction, I referred to Blockchain. It would be extremely counterproductive to ignore the benefits this new technology can bring to the B2B sphere. Therefore, it’s your duty to educate yourself or ask IT to educate you and then educate your peers on Blockchain, before inquiring about Blockchain-based solutions that will sustainably eliminate all dysfunctions that are still undermining your department’s performances today.

Work with your IT department. Pick their brain. Also, don’t hesitate to attend conferences and trade shows that talk about and promote the technologies that pertain to your operations. You cannot adopt a passive position. The business world is moving too fast.

Do You Want to Become a Technology Evangelist?

The question should rather be: Can you afford to not become a technology evangelist? I’m not sure you have that much of a choice, if naturally your goal is to give your organization all the tools, so it can thrive and prosper. Again, the world and your competitors are not waiting for you. Unless you elect to be proactive and relentlessly look for and implement better business practices, you might find yourself in a precarious business situation fairly quickly. And all the agility or reactivity in the world may not be enough.

Alright, now it’s time for me to answer the question you’ve all been asking yourself since line 21. I finished the day with fifteen shots over the par and, between you and me, I would hate to find myself in the same situation again. So, may this blog post help prevent further distracting conversations on the fairways…