Top 4 CFO Lessons From Vivint Smart Home’s Digital Transformation

Patrick Kelliher

Part of the Digital CFO Series

Business transformation is not a once-and-done project. At Vivint Smart Home, we’ve been working for years to help our company make the transition from a security services firm to a leading provider of smart home services for homeowners.

While traveling this road, we upgraded our financial and business systems to match our new sales channels and product offerings. (Read my last blog to learn how we did it.) By being adaptable – in our business models, our technology, and our approach to market demand – we were able to build a foundation for success.

However, the key takeaways from our efforts aren’t specific to Vivint or even our industry. Instead, they can help financial executives in any market digitally transform their company while more accurately anticipating business change and meeting customer demand. Here are the four primary lessons we learned.

1. Keep focused on what’s next

It often seems that companies cannot change as quickly as they should to meet dynamic business requirements. Despite our best efforts, we would have benefited from our new business systems and processes if they’d been in place a year or two earlier.

That’s why I advise financial executives to look at the road map for the business, assess current market conditions, and see how the winds are blowing. Then do what you can to get ahead of the change that’s inevitably coming.

Of course, that can be easier said than done – especially for CFOs, who are already trying to balance competing priorities, such as executing fundamental financial tasks and protecting existing technology investments. But never forget that part of your responsibility is to support the business so that it can move forward. Waiting too long to make critical changes can put you behind the curve.

2. Embrace flexibility

Developing a vision for the future is hard. You never know how new market drivers, changing customer demand, or technology innovations will affect your business. I always advise CFOs to embrace flexibility.

Our business changed so quickly. Only two short years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that we would be selling Vivint Smart Home products in 450 Best Buy stores nationwide. Retail wasn’t our thing then.

That’s where flexibility comes in. Executives must stop focusing exclusively on old business models and begin evaluating the new opportunities ahead. Of course, having the systems and processes that can accommodate multiple business models and channels is essential to achieving success in a dynamic business environment.

3. Treat technology as your ally

Use well-chosen technology solutions to drive efficiency and consistency through the business. This is an ongoing effort for Vivint, as I’m sure it is for most companies. Despite all of the work already accomplished, we’ve only scratched the surface of our potential improvement.

When managing multiple businesses, channels, and customers, consistent processes free up resources and capital – making it easier for the business to grow. An integrated technology platform serves as the foundation for streamlining and automating operations as well as improving data quality.

4. Balance consistency with innovation

CFOs are ultimately responsible for deciding what needs to change and when consistency is the highest priority. It’s a difficult balancing act at times.

I tell our executives that we should be able to deliver 80% of what our employees want with just 20% of the complexity that they’re used to. With thoughtful planning, we can develop processes and systems that make everyone happy.

One way to increase the likelihood of satisfying all of our stakeholders is to make sure that finance has meaningful, professional interactions with the different organizations of the business. With clear lines of communication and mutual respect, we’re more likely to have the essential discussions about processes and systems that will help us prepare for the next big business opportunity.

For more on Vivint’s digital transformation, see Finance Leaders Enter A New Era Of Influence And Partnership In The Cloud.

Patrick Kelliher

About Patrick Kelliher

Pat Kelliher is senior vice president and chief accounting officer of Vivint SmartHome, one of the largest smart home companies in North America, a position he has held since February 2014. He is responsible for all Vivint’s corporate accounting, and played an instrumental role in Vivint’s successful SAP S/4HANA implementation, which went live in February 2017. He also paid a key role in the $2 billion acquisition of Vivint by Blackstone in November 2012. Before joining Vivint, Pat was the vice president of Finance and controller for Omniture Inc. and helped expand the company’s annual revenues from $43 million to $350 million in just five years. He developed Omniture’s accounting infrastructure and played an integral role in the company’s IPO, which was the most successful tech IPO in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from Northern Illinois University and an MBA from the University of Chicago with a concentration in corporate finance and international business.