The World For Finance Leaders Is Still A’Changing – Are You Keeping Up?

Judy Cubiss

Change really does seem to be the only constant at the moment, at work and at home, due to the current pace of innovation and technology. In fact, the rate of change is accelerating. There are a lot of stats about how much data is being created in every single moment – 2.5 quintillion bytes of data per day, according to DN Capital back in 2015, so that number is already out of date. Trying to keep up with even a fraction of the information available is hard. Being able to use the vast amount of available data effectively is even harder.

As I was reminded recently in one episode of my favorite podcast series, Freakonomics, being productive is not the same as being efficient. Sometimes with all the tasks and all the data, it is easy to forget that it is more important to do the right things rather than to get faster at the wrong things.

Earlier this year, Oxford Economics set out to find out for finance leaders what are the “right” things. What traits do successful finance leaders have in common? I found it interesting that out of the six identified common traits identified, there was an even split between leadership/strategic skills and process/technology skills.

How some finance leaders are keeping pace

The finance leaders who are having success in this changing environment are becoming leaders in a much broader sense within their companies. They are associated with driving strategic growth for their companies. They collaborate regularly with the leaders of many different business units. And they exert influence beyond just the finance function. Technology has helped them be even more successful; for many companies, finance is now the analytics hub of the business, providing real-time insights, including comprehensive enterprise risk assessments to help every leader make better decisions.

These successful finance leaders still run all their core finance processes effectively and are continuously working to improve the efficiency of these processes through automation and self-learning. Blockchain and machine learning are just a couple of the technologies that these leaders are exploring because they are showing potential for increased automation and efficiency. Automating cash applications and simplifying bank transfers are good use cases for the technologies.

As data volume rises, we see these leaders embedding compliance in the financial operational processes. They realize compliance can no longer be just be a post-processing function.

How some are staying ahead of the curve

All these changes require a whole new way of using technology in finance. Finance platforms will replace ERP systems that have operated in silos. These finance platforms enable the transformation of financial management systems, and support the collaboration across all lines of business (LOBs) that is needed so that the business can run “live.”

We will be covering these topics and more at the SAP Finance Excellence Forum in New York City, Oct. 10–11. Leading companies such as Toyota will share how they used technology to accelerate their journey to bring different cultures and LOBs together. Vivant will share how finance boardroom influence is increasing, and how CFOs are helping lead business transformation. Colleagues from Exxon Mobile will discuss their finance transformation story with a new technology platform. There will also be more detailed sessions on how technology can help your organization become a leading finance organization and support your business to run live.

Learn how organizations are gaining instant financial insights and using them to make better decisions – both now and in the future. Register now for the 2017 Financial Excellence Forum, Oct. 10-11 in New York City.

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Judy Cubiss

About Judy Cubiss

Judy is director of content marketing for Finance at SAP. She has worked in the software industry for over 20 years in a variety of roles, including consulting, product management, solution management, and content marketing in both Europe and the United States.