Enterprises of the Future and the CFO’s Potential Leadership Role

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Although it is often misquoted as the “survival of the fittest,” Charles Darwin wrote more than 170 years ago, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.” The key word in this legendary finding is “adapting.” And this is what enterprises must do quickly if they are going to survive and thrive in this new decade.

In the next five years, enterprises face two significant challenges: 1) disruption is ubiquitous, and 2) the pace of change will never be this slow again. Disruption to enterprises has been around as long as business has existed, but the disruptor has traditionally “attacked” a market from one flank. Today, markets are being disrupted from all directions. There is frontal assault on the business model, right flank assaults driving changes in consumer behavior, assaults from the left flank with a fundamental shift in technology, and assault from behind in the form of dramatic product innovation.

What does it mean to prepare to be a disruptor? It means transforming into an “enterprise of the future.” And what does an enterprise of the future look like? We believe enterprises of the future will look to Finance & Accounting as an exemplar organization that can drive the enterprise change. And empowered F&A organizations will have a certain set of characteristics, including an expanded vision that uses technology and a greater emphasis on data to open the door to transformation.

This ISG white paper Enterprises of the Future and the CFO’s Potential Leadership Role explores how the CFO can be a “champion of change” and use the finance organization as the model for transformation for the remainder of the enterprise.

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About the author

Mr. Furlong is a Partner at ISG and has over 25 years of experience in assisting companies transform their general and administrative functions including finance and accounting, human resources, and procurement. He has expertise in formulating strategies and designing alternative service delivery models (Global Business Services, shared services and outsourcing), transforming processes, driving organizational change, and implementing emerging technologies such as advanced analytics, mobile solutions, cognitive computing and cloud based solutions.  Mr. Furlong leads ISG’s Business Advisory Services practice and serves on the Americas Leadership team.

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