Read Time, 4 min.

CFOs emerging as transformation leaders – tackling risk and optimizing for growth

When I speak to my peers, I realize that CFOs, especially now, are being called upon to help respond to today’s challenging economic environment.

From inflation, the energy crisis and rising labor costs, all are putting a squeeze on both the top and bottom line. With so much continuing fluidity, we as finance leaders are being asked to find ways to optimize costs while prioritizing investments that will drive the most powerful business outcomes.

At the same time, we are also looking at ways to mitigate external risks. This includes tackling increasing cybersecurity threats, ensuring compliance with an ever-evolving legislative landscape and meeting the expectations of stakeholders who are increasingly discerning when it comes to ESG reporting.

A white paper we recently published called the 2023 Future of Finance Trends Report shows 80% of finance leaders believe they’re being increasingly challenged to add value beyond their traditional responsibilities. Some 79% believe that they and their teams must play a significant role in driving business innovation and overall business transformation.

With all of that said, it’s little wonder that I’m seeing CFOs now at the helm as their organizations shift to the cloud – the foundational step to becoming data-led and driving innovation. CFOs leadership here stands to reason, as the financial benefits of this transformation directly map to our priorities.

Embracing the cloud represents a shift from CAPEX to OPEX, lowers financial risk, optimizes cash flow, and can unlock new business value. According to an IDC report, organizations moving to the cloud have seen an overall cost-savings of 37%, with a 30% reduction in hardware costs and a 16% savings on facilities and utilities.  

Today’s CFO is becoming data-led

As companies move to the cloud it creates the opportunity to unlock new business value. For the finance department this includes using AI tools and data in new ways to help provide insights to optimize cost savings and reinvest for growth. Some 82% of finance leaders cite AI and automation as being very important in helping their teams play a bigger role in supporting the strategic goals of the organization.

At Microsoft, we’re using AI-powered automation tools to equip our finance teams with timely, accurate data and free people from time-consuming manual processes. The technology our finance team has created “in house” has saved us 977+ hours of manual labor annually, provided $25 million in savings and has boosted our teams’ productivity levels.

It’s super important to note that you don’t have to be a technology company – or a tech expert – to drive innovation as you look to automate and become data-led. In fact, with low code technology you can empower members of your team to develop their own innovation.

At Bayer, two citizen developers on the finance team – with zero IT background – developed their own app that provided a centralized dashboard for financial data.  This tool eliminated the need for the finance team to manually track KPIs across multiple online and manual reports.

One of the developers, Portfolio Manager Matthias Eisenack stated: “The Power BI dashboard is a game-changer for us. It enables self-service for our CFO for overseeing the business, and also to present financials in real time to stakeholders, such as the board.”

Innovation is also helping us deal with increasing business complexity. Meeting sustainability goals, ensuring compliance with all local EU-level regulations, and meeting the changing expectations of workers are just a few variables at play here. So, how do we as CFOs ensure we continue accurately forecasting and assessing risk?

Netherlands-based bank ABN AMRO transformed with the goal of turning its data into rich insights to equip leaders to more accurately predict, plan and execute.  In moving to the cloud, the company is now able to use AI tools to crunch massive data sets to do that just that.

Piethein Strengholt, the company’s Principal Data Architect noted after adopting Azure: “There’s so much data processing and analytics we can do, making predictions, doing all kinds of complex calculation.”

In summary, there is an immense opportunity for CFOs to drive efficiencies while laying the groundwork for innovation. We are emerging as true agents of change and we are at the forefront of showing how data coupled with strategic thinking can fuel growth and profitability.

For my peers out there looking for a deeper-dive on how innovation is changing the role of the modern-day CFO, the 2023 Future of Finance Trends Report offers fantastic, fresh insights.

New report: 2023 Future of Finance Trends Report

Discover fresh insights and find out how innovation is changing the role of the modern-day CFO

Discover more related articles per industry:


Finance & Insurance

  • a person standing in front of a window

    Business continuity in financial services

    During these uncertain times, Microsoft is committed to supporting financial service customers and their regulators around the globe.

  • Two people wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera

    Why the bank of the future is in the cloud

    Financial services company Belfius will transfer all of its banking services to the cloud over the next seven years. This initiative is an important pillar in the company’s strategy to adapt to the changing needs of its customers – making its processes more cost-effective, safe and sustainable. This is a pioneering step for Belfius. In […]



  • Two people working together

    Making Every Day Better with Microsoft Teams

    Finland’s second-largest public sector employer, HUS Helsinki University Hospital, deployed Microsoft Teams extensively in its organization of 27,000 employees. Microsoft Teams provides HUS with a foundation for customer-oriented digital transformation, which acts as a part of its vision to be a trendsetter in healthcare. The deployed Microsoft services offer an easy-to-use solution for remote appointments […]

  • Scientist looking at a screen with data

    European Health Data Space aims to unleash the full potential of health data

    Background A key challenge in healthcare today is that both patients and clinicians have difficulty accessing the health data they need. This has multiple implications. For patients, it prevents them playing a more proactive role in their own care.  For clinicians, it affects their productivity and the quality of the care they can provide. In […]


  • Two Engineers preparing to service a clean room

    ASML: Redefining customer support with mixed reality technology

    “In our industry, the stakes are high. If one of our machines were down for a day, the cost for a chipmaker could run into the millions.” Working under pressure is something that Michiel Haverkorn Van Rijsewijk has grown used to since he started as the Director of Customer Support at ASML in February 2020. Within a month of starting at the world’s largest semiconductor lithography equipment maker, the company’s long-established […]

  • Uncovered: 4 Essential Field Service Trends For 2018

    Uncovered: 4 Essential Field Service Trends For 2018

    In a changing world of innovative new technology, connected devices, and shifting employee and customer needs, what trends are shaping the future for the Field Service industry and how can you embrace them? Trend #1: Putting the right tools into the right hands “It’s about empowering the field service engineer with more than just the […]


Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

Digital Transformation

  • a man holding a paint spray

    What we can learn from AkzoNobel’s digital transformation

    Savvy businesses are always on the lookout for ways to improve what they do and differentiate themselves from the competition. From organisational restructure to the development of entirely new business models, the quest for continuous improvement takes many forms. But one common factor in almost all modern business leaders’ plans is an emphasis on technological […]

Security & Privacy


  • female shopkeeper looking at her work tablet

    Create flexible retail supply chains that are built to last

    In a powerful storm, a tree that does not bend is likely to break. In 2020, the pandemic put storm-like forces on global supply chains – and many of them simply broke. There were shortages of many household items and commercial supplies, with many retailers forced to ration sales of some products.  This showed how […]