CFO’s, VP Finance, Comptrollers… they all have a fundamental interest in their company’s online activity which is essentially “how much is it costing and are we making money?” which is the most critical concern. But the answer to those questions isn’t as simple anymore. Fortunately, as complex as the answer is, there are reasons, and ways, to measure how those questions are answered.
A public company or large private company must be as concerned over these issues as a small private company. Both can find sudden increased revenues or decreased revenues of equal relative concern due to activities on the Web. The Web is a two-edged sword for a business today. You can’t afford to not be online, but you have to deal with a medium that has far broader reach than the pre-Web days by being online. The fact is, it’s not just customers talking about and transacting with, your business. Several years ago, all a business was really concerned with in terms of “publicity” was newspaper and magazine articles, perhaps an article posted online. Today, consumers, journalists, employees, former employees, spouses, shareholders, analysts can instantly provide very public feedback on financial earnings, press releases, re-statements and more.
For the CFO or VP Finance, the Web has an impact on their business beyond customer acquisition, cost and retention. The additional concern is investors, analysts and shareholders (retail and institutional.) The toughest audience for a CFO on the Web is retail investors. A public company with very few retail investors has less concern, but, retail investors who actively participate in stock newsgroups and forums, can influence significant price fluctuations in the run of a day. They can also influence analysts.
Even a mid-sized private company can suffer the consequences or reap the benefits of this new level of audience engagement through sales, positive and negative press and the attention of the community. These can have direct financial impact on the organization as a whole.
A CFO or VP Finance can better understand and leverage the Web activities of their business through engaging in the ongoing strategic integration of the Web into their business planning. There are some Best Practices for achieving this integration.