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Dotdigital CFO Paraag Amin explains the process of using financial information and data to help drive the business forward!

“The role of the CFO has evolved substantially over the past five to 10 years,” says Paraag Amin, CFO at omnichannel marketing solution dotdigital. Paraag should know – he’s been immersed in the finance and banking world as a financial analyst for the best part of 20 years, working for big names such as Goldman Sachs, Citi and Credit Suisse.

Paraag has seen first-hand the digital revolution that’s happened across business and finance over the past few years – you could say he’s been riding the wave himself.

In the past, CFOs tended to be the professional ‘bean counters’, the ones looking at the numbers and reporting figures. They were responsible for company budgets and taking a historic view on figures to help predict the future. They absolutely knew their stuff – but the average CFO wasn’t particularly strategy-driven. According to Paraag, that’s all changed now. Businesses and CFOs themselves have long since realised that the wealth of available data and financial information at a CFO’s fingertips needs to be utilised. The modern CFO is forward-looking and future-driven, especially when it comes to embracing technology and innovation.

A constantly evolving digital revolution

“There’s been a huge digital transformation in recent years because of technological developments,” says Paraag. “The focus for CFOs and the finance function now is about streamlining cost base to improve business efficiency. Data analysis through digital solutions is a massive part of this and the move towards automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning.” But, he says, there’s no endpoint for this transformation journey – it’s a continuum, a process that is constantly evolving. “We will always be looking at operational efficiencies and new ways to make financial improvements in the business.”

Read “5 steps to successful automation” to learn more

Part of this is looking at how businesses can scale as they grow. Automating basic functions, which Paraag refers to as ‘scalable solutions’, is a key component. Without automation, scaling up while achieving sustainable business growth will remain mutually incompatible. “Technology can carry out otherwise time-consuming, manual tasks 100 per cent correctly and accurately,” he says. “And, of course, robots don’t get tired.”

Of course, it’s not really fatigue that’s the issue – it’s cost. As Paraag explains, as a business grows in terms of revenue, people or cost base, the amount of work involved also grows. The finance function therefore needs to ensure it continues to help the business achieve what it needs to achieve – and at scale. But this can’t be done by adding more people to the mix, as Paraag argues.

“Imagine expanding to a new overseas territory. You’ll need a new financial entity and then there are the associated reported accounts and learning, and keeping up to date with new tax changes. Even just recruiting a few more people will require a new set of employment contracts, localised payroll, new bank accounts, expenses and suppliers. Each time you add just one more employee, there is additional burden on the company, and you’ll be limiting your growth prospects.”

Instead, the finance function needs to focus on analysing data and looking ahead rather than getting ‘bogged down’ in lower-rung manual processes. “Digitising the finance function naturally helps businesses optimise spending, which leads to growth and scale.”

Learn more about tackling your data gap

In essence, this is precisely Paraag’s remit as dotdigital CFO. “It boils down to being able to strategically look forward using financial information and data, digesting that information and pulling it all together to help drive the business forward. There’s also the investor relations piece that I bring to the mix from previous experience, and that helps deliver the messages about business objectives to external stakeholders.”

For Paraag, it’s a role that excites and motivates him. He’s worked across the banking sector and covered technology companies in the UK and globally, but it’s his current role at dotdigital where he’s been able to pull all his experience, knowledge and specialisms together.

“Dotdigital wanted someone with an analyst skill set rather than an accountant to help it drive business strategy using a financial perspective. My analyst skillset has been invaluable because a lot of what is required is about listening to people and understanding body language, as well as analysing and interpreting financial data” says Paraag. “I love what I do – I never know what each day will bring, it’s impossible to predict. My drive is fuelled by that unknown and uncertainty. There’s excitement in that.”

If you’d like to hear more about Paarag’s digital journey, then sign up to watch the replay of May’s Deep Dive Live!