Better Together: How Finance And IT Are Enabling The Intelligent Enterprise

Richard McLean

Part 1 in the 4-part Finance and IT Collaboration series

Over the last few years, there has been a shift in thinking about the intelligent enterprise. Business leaders are fast-forwarding their plans to move digital technology to the top of the agenda across the company. Everyone now understands the importance of digital transformation.

But when you think of the concept of an intelligent enterprise – what does that really mean? To me, inherent in the intelligent enterprise is a very high degree of business process standardization and automation enabled by technology. For large enterprises looking for productivity and efficiency gains and striving to become best-run businesses, this is a high priority that requires tight collaboration between finance and IT. That’s why I work so closely with my colleague Manik Narayan Saha, CIO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, to mobilize the resources within our areas to drive efficiency and innovation.

Partners in digital transformation

Those of us in finance—and I imagine those in every other line of business—see IT as a partner in our digital transformation. There are some fundamental areas where we look to IT for guidance, beginning with the systems and applications that are supported by IT and in many cases developed in collaboration with our R&D organization. They make sure the critical infrastructure and hardware, telecoms, and collaboration tools are sound, which is increasingly important in an intelligent enterprise.

We also look to Manik and his team for consultative advice about technology trends. They help identify ways to increase our organizational dexterity and make sure every employee is digitally agile. We seek their input on what tools and technologies we should consider adopting that may not be obvious to us. Making informed recommendations requires an open and ongoing dialogue between business units.

From silos to collaboration

Ten years ago, finance and IT coexisted in silos. The points of collaboration were few. But how can you align what you’re doing for the greater good of the business when operating this way?

For example, the objective of budget management for finance and IT is to help the organization run more cost-effectively in all aspects of the enterprise. We must be strong partners in that process. We look to Manik’s organization to act with transparency and good fiduciary responsibility. The last thing we need is to invest in new technologies without a solid and demonstrable business case. That doesn’t happen.

Now, before undertaking new projects, IT works with us to get an end-user narrative to fully understand the organization’s needs and offer recommendations on how technology can enable us to work efficiently and more productively, faster and with better accuracy.

Read the next post in this series to see how IT and finance are teaming up to reach extreme goals.

Read why collaboration is key and why performance improves markedly when finance breaks out of its silos in this Oxford Economics Research.

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Richard McLean

About Richard McLean

Richard McLean, regional CFO for SAP Asia Pacific Japan, oversees all key finance and administrative functions for field and regional headquarters, supporting more than 18,000 employees. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior finance roles with leading global companies across a range of industries, including financial services, investment banking, automotive, and IT. He joined SAP in 2008.