Vincent Ryan, Editor-in-Chief at CFO Magazine and CFO.com, spearheaded roundtable discussions on the best practices in finance for 2019 at the 2018 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in Chicago on November 28. The roundtable discussions, “Lessons Learned and New Imperatives,” focused on best practices in several areas of finance, including:
Digital technologies and tools are readily available to finance professionals worldwide. Yet finance professionals sometimes struggle to implement digital technologies and tools and maximize their value.
For finance professionals, it is important to conduct in-depth research into digital investments. If finance professionals identify digital technologies and tools that complement their organizations’ everyday operations, these professionals can get the most out of their digital investments. Plus, finance professionals can use digital technologies and tools to drive unparalleled productivity and efficiency – something that could help an organization boost its revenues and accelerate its growth.
Blockchain technology is becoming exceedingly important in finance. This technology allows finance professionals to maintain comprehensive records that remain secure at all times. Also, blockchain enables finance professionals to drive accountability across an organization.
Finance professionals are constantly evaluating new technologies, and as the demand for secure and effective recordkeeping technologies increases, the push for blockchain may rise accordingly. Meanwhile, finance professionals must consider how they can use blockchain to achieve the best-possible results for their respective organizations.
“The interesting applications [of blockchain] in finance are very specific,” Ryan pointed out.
- Social Responsibility
Finance professionals must develop social responsibility best practices. Otherwise, finance professionals could put their respective organizations at risk of suffering brand reputation damage.
“CFOs need to be aware of what’s going on in the business and what could put [the business] in a bad light if they came out [publicly],” Ryan stated.
In today’s always-on, always-connected global marketplace, consumers are more powerful than ever before. If finance professionals take a proactive approach to social responsibility, they may be able to identify potential problems before they escalate. Furthermore, finance professionals can find ways to use social media and other digital channels to maintain positive relationships with consumers.
“CFOs and other members of executive management teams need to be aware of the social impact of their businesses,” Ryan said. “Your business practices are being scrutinized like never before, and part of it is social media and this two-way conversation that is happening.”
- Data Analysis
The ability to analyze internal data is insufficient, particularly for finance professionals who want to help their respective organizations become industry leaders. Conversely, finance professionals must possess the skills and technologies to collect and assess data from myriad sources.
“You can’t just rely on internal data anymore,” Ryan said. “You have to go outside of your organization … and look at data from other providers to figure out what is going on in your market.”
Developing a data analysis strategy is paramount for a finance team. If finance professionals can seamlessly retrieve and analyze data, they could gain insights into an organization’s target audience and industry. Then, with these insights in hand, finance professionals could discover innovative ways to help their respective organizations stand out from the competition.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is quickly becoming a must-have for global organizations. But determining how to integrate AI into different business applications may be difficult.
Finance professionals should understand how they can leverage AI before they invest in this technology. That way, finance professionals can maximize the value of AI and ensure the technology delivers meaningful business results.
“Everybody seems to have artificial intelligence in their product description … but you need to make sure you know what [AI] means before you spend on it,” Ryan stated.
- Talent Engagement and Retention
Global organizations often compete for top finance talent, and engaging and retaining this talent is an ongoing challenge. Fortunately, a finance team that develops a talent engagement and retention plan may find unique ways to connect with highly skilled professionals from around the world.
Finance teams need to look beyond compensation relative to talent engagement and retention. If an organization offers a culture based on communication and collaboration, for example, it may provide a work environment that fosters learning and engagement. As a result, this organization could stand out to potential finance job candidates.
A talent engagement and retention strategy should be updated regularly, too. As the global marketplace continues to evolve, employee expectations may change as well. If an organization constantly searches for new ways to engage with talent, it could generate interest from a broad range of finance job candidates both now and in the future.
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