The Role of the CFO of an Industrial Company: An Analysis of the Impact of Blockchain Technology

Philipp Sandner, Anna Lange, Philipp Schulden
2020 Future Internet  
This qualitative multiple case study explores the influence of blockchain technology on the chief financial officer (CFO) of an industrial company. Due to the advancing digitalization of business sectors and increasing competitive pressures, industrial companies are forced to promote their own digital transformation to sustain on the market. Here, the literature regards the CFO as a key corporate function to induce digitization initiatives within organizations. The blockchain technology, due to
more » ... its features of transparency, immutability and cryptography combined with its ability to coordinate data flows of e.g., the Internet of Things (IoT) or Artificial Intelligence (AI), constitutes a suitable instrument for the CFO to meet the requirements of Industry 4.0. This paper provides a contribution to address existing research gaps regarding the application side of blockchain technology. Thus, the objective of this work is to provide corporate financial functions, such as the CFO of an industrial company, with an understanding of the extent to which blockchain technology can be used for the role-specific responsibilities. Therefore, the underlying qualitative study explores the influence of blockchain technology on the CFO-function of an industrial company. Thus, intending to address a research gap on the application side, it asks (1) What is the impact of blockchain technology on the financial as well strategic role of the CFO? (2) What is the impact of blockchain technology in convergence with the Machine Economy on the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the CFO? (3) What is the impact of blockchain-enabled integrated business ecosystems on the role of the CFO? Based on a review of literature, semi-structured expert interviews were conducted with 23 participants. Analysis of the responses demonstrated a considerable impact of blockchain technology on the CFO-function. The results indicate improvements of business processes in regard to efficiency and automation, a relocation of the CFO's strategic role, improvements of CFO-relevant KPIs through integrating machines into payment networks as well as the emergence of integrated business ecosystems facilitating new forms of inter-organizational collaboration. Necessary prerequisites for adoption include digital competences of the CFO, appropriate organizational structures, digital currencies and identities on the blockchain, a change of the competitive mindset as well as standardized platforms with a neutral governance.
doi:10.3390/fi12080128 fatcat:vbi4yt7lrjfvbfz6dllcpaypya