“If I Had A Million Dollars” was once the title of a popular song and, most likely, the kind of fantasy many of us have entertained at one time or another. It becomes quite a different exercise in imagination, however, when you’re asked to think of what you would do with a less grandiose amount — say, half a million dollars — and you’re tasked with thinking about where you might allocate it towards a specific department in your company.
This was the scenario presented at a recent survey conducted by the CFO Alliance, which gathered responses from more than 600 financial leaders across the U.S. More specifically, they were given the choice of offering a $500K budget to the sales department and the marketing department.
In both cases, CFOs said they wanted their counterparts in other business units to better understand the addressable market for their firms’ products and services. For example, 34% said Marketing would be responsible for researching this area, while 26% said Sales should be trained on the results of such research. The study concluded that those running finance departments aren’t only interested in becoming more customer-centric, but empowering the rest of the organization to do the same thing:
As CFOs embrace an ever-increasing role of leading across the enterprise, and recognize the value of truly understanding their markets & customers, their confidence and ability to impact top to bottom organizational performance increases. Confidence in their own ability to execute and embrace the role of Chief Trusted Advisor within and outside the walls of Finance may explain their optimism to deliver both top and bottom line growth in 2016.
The CFO-CMO Connection
You could argue that, as CFOs and their teams begin to offer greater insight to companies through cloud-based financial reporting tools, marketing departments in particular will become a key area for collaboration. A report last year called CFO and the CMO: A Winning Team In A Digital World from EY (formerly Ernst & Young), suggested as much. Although 54% said partnerships were improving, however, they cited changing marketing strategies as one of the main drivers.
“Business model complexity has increased, and competitors can emerge from unexpected places,” the report said. “A strong finance-marketing relationship can spell the difference between high-growth organizations, and those that stagnate or are left behind.”
CFOs may never be in a position to give hundreds of thousands to their colleagues so they can get a better sense of their firm’s growth potential. As their use of data becomes more sophisticated, however, what they do offer might turn out to be even more valuable.
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