As a business partner, the controller must support the company’s digital transformation with constructive criticism! Several aspects can be distinguished.
In the digital transformation convergence phase, the controlling department must examine the relative allocation of resources to digital versus analogue business areas and, if needed, demand changes. It is not an easy balancing act but, nonetheless, necessary to drive the digital transformation vigorously while simultaneously maintaining sufficiently high short-term profitability.
If digital business models have not yet been integrated into a company’s traditional business model, the management control process will be confronted with additional challenges. In particular, it is important to prevent undesirable management activities from interfering with the transformation process. In this context, the proper allocation of digital revenues and change-friendly incentives for the traditional organization are just two important points that controllers must address.
At the same time, a fundamental cultural change must take place in many cases. If a company is to be successful in a context of high uncertainty and digital transformation, a corporate culture of open information exchange and constructive criticism must prevail and, if necessary, replace politically-motivated exchanges and a hierarchical silo-mentality. Tool- and process-based solutions may be necessary and helpful; however, the central driver in dealing with volatility (cf. Schäffer/Weber 2015b) and digital change is a company culture that encourages critical discourse and the open exchange of information. Controllers, in particular, must set a good example and, as business partners, transfer their distinctive trademarks – transparency and candor – to the company.