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Chief financial officers take on traditional CMO tasks using data and analytics to drive customer strategy


By Laurie Fullerton | Freelance Writer

July 18, 2017 | 3 min read

With the drive to improve customer experience a company-wide concern, the traditional role of the CMO is evolving to include the data-centric CFO as the driver of customer experience.

A combined study between Dunn & Bradstreet and Forrester revealed that 53% of finance leaders surveyed report being responsible or accountable for customer-focused initiatives.

The report is based on 250 CFOs and EVPs of finance familiar with their organization’s use of data/analytics to inform decision and strategy.

Data driven CFOs are taking the lead on improving customer experience

Because positive business results are often fueled by customer experiences, chief financial officers use data and analytics to drive home customer strategy. By insuring that it is rooted in insights that drive favorable outcomes, 36% of finance executives surveyed were identified as customer-obsessed leaders. The report also shows data and insights driven companies are 39% more likely to report year over year revenue growth of 15% or more.

Additionally, 79% of CFOs indicated that their organizations will likely increase spending on technology applications to support customer engagement. The implementation of a customer-based strategy requires competencies that must be aligned across people, processes, and technologies.

CFOs, with their leadership position, cross-organizational perspective, and ability to understand complex sets of data, are uniquely positioned to implement insights-driven behaviors and processes within their organizations.

“As the strategic steward of cash flow, revenue, and profitability, the CFO has a substantial stake in the organization’s customer obsession efforts, as the link between customer strategy and business results is tangible. Thus, CFOs need to take an active role in leading their organizations from customer focused to customer obsessed. Today, 53% of the finance leaders surveyed report they were responsible or accountable for their organizations’s customer-focused intitaitves,” according to the Forrester report.

Investing in the right tools and technology, as well as augmenting internal data with third-party data and analytics are some of the key actions leading finance executives are taking. But, the study also points to challenges including disconnected strategies within the organization, disparate data, inconsistent metrics, and a lack of investment in technology..

The study further outlines seven critical data competencies to master, qualities and resulting metrics that set customer-obsessed finance leaders and followers apart, and how-to strategies to focus efforts around using data and analytics to become a customer-obsessed organization.

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