The Strategic CFO

first_imgIn many organizations, the CFO is seen as the number cruncher, sitting in an office applying procedure and saying ‘no’ to budget requests. The reality is much more complex than this. While there are still many CFOs trapped in a traditional mind-set, for enlightened businesses, the CFO has been elevated to one of the most important and strategic roles in the company. The time has come for businesses to choose what sort of CFO they want: one that can maintain the status quo, or one that provides strategic guidance to drive business growth.CFOs have a clear choice: they can either work in Finance or finance. The former have more in common with the stereotypical CFO. They provide a safe pair of hands and can help deliver good corporate governance and compliance. Beyond that their role is mostly about ensuring fiduciary responsibility and making sure that the books balance. The new breed of CFO, on the other hand, sees finance as a tool that can enable the business to do more. After all, governance, compliance, stewardship and fiduciary responsibility, while vital, are not going to help the business grow. The best CFOs today are increasingly freeing up time so they can offer additional strategic advice without affecting their core responsibilities.There are two key drivers that are giving the CFO the necessary time and space to expand their roles. The first lies in technological advances that have made previously time-consuming tasks much faster to complete. Traditionally, CFOs needed to spend a great deal of time and energy pulling various sources of information together from across the business and then working to ensure it all added up. Today, advances in software and hardware have allowed for the automation of many finance processes, freeing CFOs of these manual consolidation tasks.  The second lies in the focus on core competencies; standard recurring business processes such as accounts receivable (AR), accounts payable (AP) and Payroll as examples are increasingly seen as non-core and moved into shared service centres or even outsourced. This means that the CFO has more time than ever to concentrate on value-generating activity.However, if CFOs really want to step into this new, strategic role, a complete change of mind-set is required. Values that were traditionally considered appropriate for the CFO – assessing variants and looking for things that are wrong in the business so that they can be addressed and the status quo restored – are now less important. Today’s CFOs must think differently, not just look at managing costs, but instead look at how things can be done better, faster, or completely differently. Regardless of whether they are looking at marketing, sales or manufacturing, they need to be prepared to talk not just about what the company can afford do to, but also to ask questions and challenge their colleagues to help elevate operations to a new level.One area of the business that can experience great positive effect from the ‘new’ CFO is the IT department. When finance departments operate in the traditional way, the CFO is all too often the ‘CF-no’, refusing to green light IT projects that they either do not understand or cannot justify through a cost analysis. The CIO is left stranded, trying to prove business cases where return on investment is not as clear as the board would like. A good example is a company’s backup and recovery system, which is designed to prevent a loss. The investment must be understood in terms of the value of business that would be lost if a company loses its data or experiences downtime.The challenge for the CFO and for their company is to create an environment where the Finance team and CFO are encouraged to expand their responsibilities and take an active interest in every area of the business. This requires a change in behaviour on both sides which is never an easy task. In an age where the slightest shift in strategy can result in monumental changes in competitive advantage, a company with a strategic CFO is the one who will win.last_img read more

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A Modern Definition of IT Systems

first_imgI recently had the opportunity to work with IT analyst Dennis Drogseth (Enterprise Management Associates) on a video and whitepaper about IT systems transformation as an enabler of digital business transformation.  This got me thinking about the fundamental definition of what a system is.In my college days, I became fascinated looking at the world in terms of systems.  So much that I moved from economics to sociology and eventually landed on natural systems (i.e., biology).  In my senior year, I got hooked on programing and, after graduation, moved into the world of IT – another kind of system.Mere lists or related groups of things (natural or man-made) do not make a system.   To paraphrase one of the early general systems theorists, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, systems are groups of interconnected, co-dependent parts joined by processes that keep everything working together (e.g., negative entropy, homeostasis, etc.).Systems thinking is a fundamentally better way to get your arms around many complex issues.  Recall how in grammar school you learned about natural systems like the weather (i.e., the water cycle) and food chains (e.g., an ecological cycle) – and later on about social, economic and political systems.Let’s consider “IT systems”—a term that has been around for a long time.  It is most broadly defined by ITIL as a system involving people, processes and technology. But how we put IT technology (e.g., data center infrastructure) together largely defines the degree of its “system-ness.”  And the more the system-ness, the better to outcome for businesses and IT operations.Traditionally, and even today, data centers are largely do-it yourself (DIY) integrations of multi-vendor components (compute, storage, network and hypervisor). DIY infrastructure is either fully home-grown, or, at best, it uses a reference architecture so you don’t have to figure everything out yourself.But after you connect the parts, you still have to manage, support and sustain DIY infrastructure as technology silos.  This has huge drawbacks:You will struggle with firmware upgrades and their potential incompatibility across multi-vendor gear.You must call each component vendor separately for support.Even monitoring tools that display all components in a “single pane of glass” don’t show you how their relationships impact total system and workload status.Provisioning will still be siloed, so you resort to bolt-on “orchestration” tools.Converged infrastructure changes this.  It is comprised of pre-integrated multi-vendor compute, storage, network and virtualization components that arrive on your loading dock as a single product ready to run.But this new definition of “system-ness” extends throughout the life cycle in four ways.Built-in monitoring and management software that is Architecture-aware. (e.g., shows total system health including status and relationships of major components, their subcomponents, and the workloads they support)Built-in “call home” technology to a single source of live, on-call support (e.g., one phone call to make for help; no more calling multiple equipment manufacturers)Built-in awareness of firmware and hypervisor release levels, including when they need to be upgraded, and a way to download new releases, pre-tested for multi-vendor component interoperabilityLike natural systems that are self-directing/regulating, IT infrastructure system-ness is increasingly enriched with software-based automation – for continuous processing, data protection and more. The video and whitepaper  that I previously referenced will give you a real-world converged infrastructure perspective on the modern definition of IT systems.last_img read more

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Where Change Meets Its Match: PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Processors Have Arrived

first_imgThere are two common challenges I hear from our customers when I ask how they are managing their IT transformation:Pace of ChangeScope of ChangeBusinesses, regardless of their industry, need to be nimble in their strategy, efficient in the operations and responsive to their customers. It has become necessary for enterprises to innovate in all aspects of their business. Innovation is no longer confined to a limited group of people or restricted to some remote corner of the business. I see businesses, big and small, innovate in all aspects – build better products like Otto Motors, streamline operations and improve customer experience. The pace and scope of the change our customers experience is, paradoxically, relentless and constant. It is a testimony to our customers’ tenacity as they manage this change.Using the right technology to drive innovation further and faster has become a strategic priority. Take, for example, the retail industry. Retailers need to closely track their inventory, monitor the product velocity and continuously improve customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling these retailers to monitor, analyze and respond to a dynamic situation in an effective manner. Similar innovations are emerging across industries and verticals creating complex, dynamic and demanding workloads. Supporting these emerging innovations require robust yet flexible technology platforms. These technology platforms should also have high performance, be scalable and provide maximum ROI.To help businesses derive maximum value from these dual challenges of pace and scope of change, Dell EMC is expanding its formidable PowerEdge portfolio of servers with the PowerEdge R6415, PowerEdge R7415 and PowerEdge R7425. These three new PowerEdge servers, built with AMD EPYC™ processors, broaden our customers’ options in managing their IT transformation efforts effectively. Each PowerEdge server platform has been engineered and optimized to meet the complex computational and storage demands of the emerging and disruptive workloads such as:EDGE Computing Workloads – require server platforms that can not only handle the massive amounts of data created at the edge but have the performance density to manage these computations. The PowerEdge R6415 is a highly configurable, 1U single-socket server with up to 32 cores that offers the ultra-dense, scale-out computing capabilities needed for EDGE. With a support for up to 10 PCIe NVMe drives, the R6415 provides critical storage flexibility required for these workloads.Software Defined Storage (SDS) Workloads – have to manage exploding rates of data efficiently, securely and seamlessly across pooled resources. The PowerEdge R7415 is a 2U, single-socket with 128 PCIe lanes provides the bandwidth necessary for virtualization and supporting up to 24 NVMe drives for extreme storage requirements. The R7415 is the first AMD EPYC-based server platform certified as VMware vSAN Ready Node and offers up to 20% better TCO per four-node cluster for vSAN deployments at the edge. High-Performance Computing (HPC) Workloads – require server platforms not only with high performance but also the large bandwidth to move the results of the computations appropriately. The PowerEdge R7425 is a 2U, dual-socket has up to 64 cores and supports up to 4TB to provide the kind of accelerated computing that HPC workloads demand. It has been shown that the R7425 can deliver up to 25% superior performance for HPC workloads such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)Just as all the other servers of 14th generation of PowerEdge servers, these three servers provide enterprises additional advantages:Intelligent automation through the very versatile iDRAC9 and easy system management support through Quick Sync 2The protection provided by PowerEdge’s integrated security features such as the cyber resilient architectureWe know the pace and scope of change will remain key challenges for our customers as they manage their IT Transformations, but with these customer-inspired features aimed to tackle these critical workloads, we’re confident these three new servers expand the Dell EMC PowerEdge portfolio in supporting our customers’ IT infrastructure needs.We continue to actively listen to our customers and ensure they are able to make the most of their data through our solutions. Just as the pace and scope of change remains challenging for our customers, building the right solutions continue to be a responsibility for us. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey with them.Learn more about the complete PowerEdge portfolio at dellemc.com/Servers . Read the press release of these products and join the conversation at @DellEMCservers.last_img read more

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1st private space crew paying $55M each to fly to station

first_imgCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The first private space station crew has been introduced a year ahead of the planned launch. A Houston company on Tuesday identified the three men who are paying $55 million each to fly to the International Space Station next January atop a SpaceX rocket. They include a real estate and tech entrepreneur from Dayton, Ohio; a Canadian financier; and an Israeli businessman. They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom. Tom Cruise was mentioned last year as a potential crew member. There’s no word on whether he’ll catch the next Axiom flight.last_img read more

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At Amanda Gorman’s church, ‘everybody is a freedom fighter’

first_imgPoet Amanda Gorman sang in the choir, did her sacraments and recited poetry at an Afrocentric Catholic church in South LA.  St. Brigid Catholic Church is run by the Josephites, a religious community that formed in 1871 to meet the needs of newly freed people after the Civil War.  Floy Hawkins, a parishioner and former director of religious education at St. Brigid, said Amanda “would always get standing ovations,” “We were in just as much awe of her then, as we were when we all witnessed her at the inauguration.”last_img read more

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N Carolina home of white supremacist voted off landmark list

first_imgRALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The home of a former North Carolina newspaper publisher who helped orchestrate an 1898 riot in which at least 60 Blacks were killed has been removed from a list of historic landmarks. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to strip the home of Josephus Daniels of the local designation. According to the book, “Wilmington’s Lie,” Daniels was a former publisher of The News & Observer and conspired with others to instill fear and anger among the white residents of Wilmington, a majority Black town in which both elected Black and whites worked together.last_img read more

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US says Myanmar takeover was coup, promises sanction review

first_imgThe United States says last weekend’s military roundup of civilian leaders in Myanmar was a coup. Tuesday’s declaration sets the stage for additional sanctions or other penalties aimed at the country’s military and officers. The military power grab poses a challenge for the two-week-old Biden administration, which says it wants to support wobbly democracy movements globally — but also wants to avoid driving countries like Myanmar toward China. The State Department says any penalties it imposes for the coup will not touch direct humanitarian aid to the country’s people. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging the U.S. to rally international condemnation of the coup leaders.last_img read more

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