Performance culture, digital transformation, standardization and automation of processes were some of the core themes of the 2017 Finance Directors Exchange. The event gathered more than 80 CFOs, VPs, Directors and Heads of Finance Operations, Transformation and Shared Services on the 19th and 20th September in Amsterdam. Leaders from top enterprises like DHL, Adidas, Kellogg’s or Orange Business Services met to discuss and share best practices in order to improve the future of Finance Operations.
How can AI help unleash the value hidden in your financial data? How to enhance processes in an agile way and use data to promote standardization and automation in your structure? How to share these insights with other departments of your structure? These are the themes raised during the round-table hosted by Sidetrade.
During 2 days, the Finance Director Exchange has focused on implementing successful global business services models and drive sustainable transformational change through technology and innovations like data visualization, robotization and Artificial Intelligence for continuous improvement. Indeed, there is an increased drive for the Finance Directors to provide insights and value through analytics and the scope of end-to-end process management is increasingly becoming globalized as robotic process automation has permeated through the industry. 22 interactive sessions took place to address these topics through case studies and round-tables to answer the attendee’s strategic and operational needs.
Embrace technology to implement successful change
Hosting the interactive group “Let AI help you to unleash the value of your financial data”, Anno Wierenga, Senior Consultant for Sidetrade in Amsterdam, focused the discussion on how to get the most of financial data and use Artificial Intelligence to support a data-driven performance generation strategy. The attendees had the opportunity to discuss the interest of AI to empower Finance and get a much more powerful vision of customers and business. We heard from the likes of Orange Business Services, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Adidas or Booking.com.
“We have the data. Our problem is: how to extract that data and use it?” – Razvan Brau, Senior Director, Order-to-Cash Global Process Owner, Kellogg’s
Significant productivity and ROI gains in a short time frame
Drive a performance culture in the company, automate and standardize processes, utilize analytics to work in collaboration with Sales and Marketing Departments, embark teams in the digital transformation, optimize the revenue cycle, and automate repetitive day-to-day tasks… All of these challenges were raised as strategic stake for Finance functions by the attendees. Most of all, access data and manage to read it is becoming critical to deep dive to go to profiling particular accounts and get a 360 degree view of customers, in order to meet the new expectations Finance departments are facing. To achieve these goals, disruptive new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Blockchain were evoked with a large art of possible for every company: automation of repetitive work, reduce errors and drive analytics and insights from data.
“These new technologies will change the world!” – Guy Kirkwood, Chief Evangelist, UiPath
Is the CFO the new Chief Data Officer?
The change management challenge was also identified as crucial: Finance Directors are now expected to facilitate the access to complex Data and ensure the reliability of the insights extracted by Data Science. Several companies claimed that Data programs are now hold by the Finance Department rather than the IT. The presentation “Revolutionizing Finance effectively in 2017 and beyond” by Luke Macfarlane, EMEA Sales Director at Tungsten Network, focused on this new role of Finance Directors: more than business partners, they have to implement the roots of change in their structure.
“A change management policy is critical to implement an automation solution in your company” – Razvan Brau, Senior Director, Order-to-Cash Global Process Owner, Kellogg’s
By identifying new technologies, starting with Artificial Intelligence, as an opportunity to optimize resources, save costs and leverage significant productivity, CFOs will be able to find future addressable markets and look-alike customers, optimize Customer Lifetime Value, identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunity and predict when a customer disconnects. Internal relationships will also be improved by leveraging the power of Data and providing rapidly actionable insights, not only to Finance but also to the other customer-facing teams.
“Finance data on its own has a certain value, but it becomes much more powerful combined with operational data and becomes also interesting for non-Finance departments: Product Marketing, Business Development, Sales…” – Christian Barte, Head of Business Profitability Analysis, Orange Business Services