As major disruptors shift the role of the CFO, companies are undergoing a “systems refresh” in the finance function. This is inspiring CFOs to rethink the way business is conducted and reevaluate key business drivers in order to leverage these market forces to achieve success.

This transformation is motivating CFOs to direct people in the finance function to partner with business unit leaders to help achieve company goals. In pursuing this new strategy, the ultimate challenge for CFOs is to build a forecast that matches labor with demand. By enhancing business systems and increasing collaboration with operational leaders in practice, CFOs will strengthen their ability to construct an accurate and effective forecast model.

CFOs are also allocating more capital for customer-facing technology projects—decisions that are complicated by rapidly evolving technology even as projects take a long time to build. These initiatives must be viewed holistically and strategically to ensure they are integrated to produce a more efficient and effective finance function and support business innovation.

Predictive analysis is the final key strategy emerging from the systems refresh in the finance function. CFOs are increasingly exploring the potential to use predictive analytics to better leverage information within the business. By understanding the company’s strategic direction, they can deploy resources accordingly and optimize performance.

Identifying the Right Talent

There is certainly more clarity around the skills and actions now required of CFOs to tackle the growing complexity in the sector. Selecting the right candidate for the job remains a challenge of growing importance. Increasingly, the source of CFO talent lies not only outside the firm, but also outside the logistics and transportation services industry.

Among the CFOs of the top 50 logistics companies, as identified by the Transport Topics Publishing Group, 64% were external hires. Of those logistics CFOs hired externally, more than half came from outside the industry. Executives from outside the industry are seen as having the potential to bring new ideas and a fresh approach to the business. Increasingly, companies seek CFO candidates who have experience working within a global organization, exposure to highly transaction-driven business models and cut their teeth at best-in-class organizations, known for developing financial leaders.

Talent will be easier to attract, but harder to find due to an expanded pool of candidates when industries such as retail, financial services, consulting, industrials and business services are included. Though sifting through the possibilities will require more diligence, the potential reward is great.

As Paul Jacobson, CFO of Delta Airlines, explains, the benefits of seeking CFO talent externally are strong: “In addition to developing talent from within, I have an unprecedented opportunity to recruit from outside the industry. We love to tell our story because we think that talented people who historically would not have contemplated the industry will find it compelling.”

Putting the Pieces Together to Foster Future Success

As companies address the shifting role of the CFO and new challenges in the market, financial leaders must partner people in the finance function directly with company unit leaders to drive business outcomes, view investments in new technologies with both a holistic and strategic approach to verify the value of costly initiatives, and explore the potential to leverage predictive analytics to align the allocation of resources with business goals.

Finally, in seeking out new CFO talent, expanding talent acquisition strategies outside the logistics and transportation services industry may help businesses acquire leaders who can bring fresh perspectives and unique skillsets to the organization.