July 2019: What We’re Reading

By The Center Team on July 30, 2019

News and insights to keep you up to date and on track—Amazon’s $700M response to the workforce impacts of automation, the future of FP&A as “profitability analytics,” and why collaborative teams need a “no spectators” culture.


Breaking the Budget

Steve Player, Paige Leavitt, and Rachele Collins for CFO | @CFO

Finance teams can spend months creating a budget for the next year, only to spend that year insisting that departments stick to predetermined numbers without accounting for any legitimate flexibility. That energy could be devoted instead to analytics or strategy, which is why these experts outline alternative forecasting methods (and success stories from companies that made the change).

“Park Nicollet’s effort has eliminated waste, empowered employees to make thoughtful decisions, and focused the finance and accounting function and the larger organization on work that matters.”

Is Your Organisation Encouraging Effective Collaboration?

Jens Berthol Hansen for FP&A Trends

It’s hard to find an argument against collaboration, yet countless teams struggle to achieve it. This thoughtful look at building truly collaborative teams emphasizes the importance of “precise and fearless” communication, lack of ego, and a firm no-spectators policy.

“Collaboration requires that team members feel certain about each other’s views and standpoints, and this requires precise communication and clarifying dialogue.”

Profitability Analytics

Larry R. White and Raef Lawson for Strategic Finance | @SFMagazineIMA

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is a growing—and evolving—industry. The changing landscape will require new functions and responsibilities, and some have set their sights on Profitability Analytics. This shift from financial statements to economic reality, and finance-focused to market-focused, could significantly change the role of FP&A.

“Advances in digital technology, Big Data, data analytics, and AI increase the potential for management accountants to use powerful tools to vastly improve and expand the FP&A function.”

The Inside Story of How This Startup Turned a 216-Word Pitch Email into a $2.6 Billion Acquisition

First Round Review | @FRCReview

Data analytics company Looker grew from scrappy roots in Santa Cruz, CA, to a $2.6-billion acquisition by Google Cloud in under ten years. While the founders intentionally began slowly, the company’s fast growth required a smart foundation.

“People often create models to drive valuation, they’re always trying to do 2x the plan. In my opinion, that’s the most dangerous, company-killing move you can make.”

Why Enterprise Digitization Doesn’t Always Solve AP Friction
Amazon Commits $700M to Retrain 100k Employees, Acknowledging Impact of Tech on Jobs

Todd Bishop for GeekWire | @geekwire

The emerging role of robots and automation will undoubtedly impact many industries, opening a massive opportunity for “upskilling” or pivoting today’s workforce. Amazon recently pledged millions to train one-third of its employees in forward-looking positions, including data science and business analytics.

“Since introducing robots in 2012, approximately 300,000 full-time jobs have been added globally, disproving the misconception that machines are replacing humans in the workforce. In addition, robotic animation benefits employees, as they take over performance of fulfillment centers’ less desirable, more tedious tasks.”

Role of Machine Learning in Finance

CFO Tech Outlook| @CFOtechoutlook

The large-scale adoption of machine learning is seemingly guaranteed, but the effort to make it happen is hard to ignore. In this case, high effort can reap significant rewards in three key areas: process automation, security, and algorithmic trading.

“The quantitative nature of the financial domain and massive availability of data sets is well-suited for ML to enhance numerous aspects of the financial industries.”

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