Earlier this week I shared a new research report by CFO Publishing sponsored by SAP with some insights on the Future of Finance.
Thack Brown is general manager and global head of Line-of-Business Finance at SAP, and I had the opportunity to speak with him about the report. I have had the opportunity to speak with Thack numerous times over the years, including for my book, and I continue to find his perspectives and insights relevant, useful and enjoyable.
I would like to share 5 points that Thack shared with me that I thought CFOs should hear, listen to, and think about further. (This is an excerpt from my conversation with Thack and has been edited for clarity).
1) This is a platform play at the end of the day.
Companies in the general market are currently revaluating their platforms, their ERP, their financial systems, all of that stack, and saying “it’s all changing”. It’s time for me to place the next bet that will be my platform for the next 10-15 years.
2) Know that the CFO opportunity is a big one.
CFOs need to be ready to make the step out of the finance field, into a more comprehensive involvement understanding of the entire workings of the company. CFOs need to expand their role and take on more responsibilities.
3) You are not alone.
Finance professionals are usually challenged when it comes to networking. We tend to be so overworked and focused on our profession that sometimes we can fall into that trap of believing that our problems are only our problems. Talk to your peers. Network, brainstorm and problem solve. This is a valuable resource and should not be overlooked.
4) The next big thing.
Automation. This has been talked about in the finance world forever. The need to move more effort out of the back office and automate it so you can spend more time in the front office. Move past the shared services environment to full automation. The back office of the future will be a just a few highly skilled experts handling, enabling and ultimately evolving the automation.
5) Advice to midsize companies and their CFOs.
Mid-size companies need to keep an eye on the technology transformations of automation and simplification, because this may be not their opportunity to catch up the big boys, but actually leap-frog them entirely. As an example, they could skip the entire shared services phase.
So, CFOs, what do you think?