Vanna Krantz, Senior Vice President of Finance at The Walt Disney Company, and Jennifer Langton, Vice President of Business Ventures at the National Football League (NFL), discussed the use of cross-functional partnerships to overcome disruption in finance during a Fireside Chat at the 2018 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in New York on November 28. In the chat, “Companies in the Face of Disruption,” Krantz and Langton shared their thoughts on what it takes to leverage technology and partnerships to drive innovation.
Disruption is common among finance teams. As finance teams search for ways to innovate, they often deploy state-of-the-art technologies to foster innovation. Yet determining how to innovate and which technologies can be used to support innovation sometimes is difficult.
Cross-functional partnerships may be ideal for finance teams and other departments across an organization. These partnerships allow finance teams to collaborate and communicate with myriad departments and brainstorm solutions to common problems. They also help drive innovation at all levels of an organization.
Analytics are essential for finance teams as well. If finance teams collect and analyze data from a broad range of sources, they can gain unprecedented insights into market and consumer trends and patterns. These teams then can use these insights to find ways to quickly and efficiently innovate.
“We try to find innovations in the space, whether that’s diagnostics tools on the sidelines or whether that’s growing our analytics platform,” Langton pointed out. “It’s a different type of disruption. We’re not only leading our sport, but we’re also doing things to lead all sports medicine.”
Having the right data available is critical for a finance team. Not all data is identical, and finance teams must use data management and analysis solutions to retrieve timely and pertinent information. Once finance teams have these solutions in place, they can gain the insights they need to make fast, informed decisions that deliver meaningful results.
“Everything we do is data-driven,” Langton stated. “Today, [athletes] are so well-informed … and if we can understand the injuries on the field, what we can do is come up with a digital representation to predict injuries, and that is the future of our sport.”
Finance teams must understand the public perception of an organization’s brand, too.
If finance teams understand how a target audience perceives a brand, they can explore unique ways to foster engagement with this audience. These teams can pursue investments and partnerships built around innovation. Best of all, finance teams can assess ways to ensure a brand can foster consumer retention and loyalty worldwide.
“I think the strength of our brand … are the eyeballs,” Langton said. “We’ve expanded internationally, and we will continue to expand … and look at our participation pipeline.”
Finance teams should take a proactive approach to their everyday activities. Although data collection and analysis are important, finance teams must find ways to keep pace with industry rivals. Because if an organization falls behind the competition, it risks missing out on revenue generation and growth opportunities.
A finance team also should prioritize innovation. If a finance team explores ongoing innovation, it could discover new ways to foster growth. Meanwhile, this team could help its respective organization take the necessary steps to become an industry leader.
“Don’t be complacent. There’s always more that you can do, and there is always more innovation that you can bring to the table,” Langton indicated. “You’re always competing in your space, and you’re always competing against yourself.”
Talent engagement and retention may be problematic for finance teams due in large part to the fierce competition for top talent. However, finance teams who understand the skills they need are better equipped than others to find ways to attract and retain talented professionals.
Ultimately, it is pivotal for a finance team to employ professionals who understand the day-to-day challenges associates with working in the finance space. Whereas some roles enable employees to work a standard 9-to-5 shift, finance team members may be required to work outside of traditional operating hours. As such, a finance team must employ professionals who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the best-possible results.
“Retaining talent involves talent understanding where the best opportunities are for them,” Krantz said. “Finance is one of the hardest-working functions in and organization … and if you have someone in the bullpen who leaves at 4 o’clock every day, this is disruptive.”
An effective talent engagement and retention strategy is a must-have for a finance team. With this strategy in place, a finance team can find diverse job candidates to fill roles within an organization. Also, this team can focus on finding job candidates who prioritize innovation and can help an organization accomplish its immediate and long-term aspirations.