Emerging from a cycle of misunderstood expectations and disillusionment, finance leaders are beginning to realize the real potential of cloud technology. From improving interactions with internal functions and external partners to revolutionizing skills, offsetting automation, and using digital assets more effectively, the debate on the cloud is moving well beyond whether adoption will happen. It’s now a matter of when and how.
This new mindset is especially prevalent among finance leaders who have a strong influence on business strategy, form collaborative relationships with all nonfinance organizations, enable efficient handling of its core processes, and manage costs tightly. “The cloud isn’t just helping them excel in their core mandate, but also helping them do the things that make them leaders,” shared Joan Warner, managing editor of Finance at Oxford Economics, during the SAP Webcast “Finance Leaders Leverage Cloud Technologies to Stay Ahead of the Curve.”
Source: “How Finance Leadership Pays Off: Six Ways CFOs Stay Ahead of the Pack,” Oxford Economics, sponsored by SAP, 2017.
Joan’s observation is right on point. Finance leaders are encouraged to collaborate closely with other functional organizations to ensure the viability and successful delivery of strategic growth initiatives and to optimize supply chain and procurement performance. At the same time, there is increasing pressure to operate with a level of speed, effectiveness, and responsiveness that doesn’t hold the business back. For many finance leaders, cloud adoption is becoming a critical factor in accomplishing all of these expectations.
Vivint: Building a platform for strategic finance excellence
There’s certainly a lot at stake for finance leaders. But as Pat Kelliher, senior vice president and chief accounting officer for Vivint Smart Home, confirmed in the Webcast, the right cloud-born foundation can make all the difference.
Utah-based Vivint Smart Home, a leading provider of intelligent home technologies, decided to move to the cloud to find a better way to conduct its reconciliations and closings. After introducing new sales channels and offerings, its business model grew more complex. Over time, inventory tracking and reconciliation, as well as Sarbanes-Oxley controls, became more challenging as fragmented systems and homegrown solutions created an IT landscape of data silos and limited scalability.
“In our legacy system, we had to do a lot of manual entries to allocate costs to the right places, track inventory, and close out inventory reconciliation,” remarked Pat. “We had very little visibility of what was going on in the business. Clearly, we were looking through the rearview mirror, which is not optimal.”
By simplifying and integrating its IT landscape in the cloud, Vivint gained the flexibility, operational efficiencies, automated control, and real-time visibility it needed to scale and grow over time while making actionable decisions in real time. For example, inventory reconciliation went from being a three-day process to a task that can be completed in a matter of hours. Plus, allocations are automated, and management reporting is generated from one common journal with a variety of attributes.
“With the new channels we’re entering and all of the changes we’re encountering, it’s important for us to take a look at different real-time views of the business quickly,” he reflected. “Now [with our cloud platform], we can work with a number of digital functionalities – all in a much more flexible platform.”
Opening the door to a new era of finance influence and partnership
As Joan and Pat pointed out, finance executives who leverage the cloud to address process inefficiencies and siloed information are the ones providing the level of insight and strategic value businesses need to grow. And as their understanding and use of cloud solutions grow, so will their ability to become a central figure of influence and partnership.
Learn more about the value of cloud-driven finance organizations with findings from Oxford Economics research and Vivint’s experience. Watch the replay of the SAP Webcast “Finance Leaders Leverage Cloud Technologies to Stay Ahead of the Curve,” featuring Joan Warner, managing editor of Finance at Oxford Economics, and Pat Kelliher, senior vice president and chief accounting officer for Vivint Smart Home.