JLL Global Treasurer Bryan Duncan shared his thoughts on the future of finance during a keynote presentation at the 2018 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in Chicago on November 28. In his presentation, “How Finance Can Prepare for 2019,” Duncan offered tips to help finance professionals get ready for the new year.
2019 is rapidly approaching, and finance professionals who start preparing for the new year could identify ways to help their respective organizations thrive in the foreseeable future. To help finance professionals get ready for 2019, Duncan explored several finance-related topics in his presentation, including:
Finance professionals often want to standardize myriad systems and processes. Yet doing so may prove to be an uphill climb, especially for finance professionals who fail to plan ahead.
To standardize various systems and processes, finance professionals should take a gradual approach. Merely deploying technologies in the hopes of standardizing processes and systems is insufficient; instead, finance professionals should consider the value of shared services centers.
By creating shared services centers, finance professionals can help their respective organizations manage assorted services. At the same time, these centers may help organizations lower their operating costs.
“You can simplify, standardize and prioritize, and once your controls are set up, you can bring [everything] into a shared services center,” Duncan said. “If you build your controls and service centers appropriately … there’s a dual win of lower costs and better controls.”
A wide array of automation technologies is available, and these technologies often help finance professionals streamline many everyday tasks. But figuring out which automation technologies work well for a particular organization may be challenging.
Finance professionals should identify tasks that can be automated and map out their automation technology investments accordingly. They also should monitor the results of their automation technology investments over time. With a comprehensive approach to automation, finance professionals are better equipped than ever before to get the most out of their automation technology investments.
“If someone is currently keying in emails by hand, that is something that software can do,” Duncan pointed out. “And we’ve had some pretty good success on [automation].”
Although organizations frequently retrieve structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources, analyzing this information and generating meaningful insights from it is rarely simple. Fortunately, finance professionals can offer data analysis expertise to help organizations maximize the value of the information at their disposal.
If finance professionals deploy data collection and analysis technologies, they can gather extensive information from multiple sources. These professionals then can identify patterns and trends hidden with massive amounts of data and produce data-based reports. Finally, finance professionals can share these reports with across an organization, ensuring departments can use the reports to make data-driven decisions.
“If there is a way to standardize data and make it useful, that’s always a win,” Duncan stated.
The end user should be top of mind for finance professionals, and for good reason. Because if an organization cannot match or exceed the end user’s expectations, it is unlikely to stand out from the competition in a fierce global marketplace.
Finance professionals should consider the end user relative to an organization’s investments and initiatives. That way, an organization can minimize the risk of costly, time-intensive investments and initiatives that fail to help it engage with its target audience.
Furthermore, finance professionals should remain committed to ongoing innovation and improvement. If finance teams collaborate with different departments across an organization, these groups together could uncover unique ways to improve an organization’s products and services.
“With whatever you sell, it is important to make sure that the end user is satisfied,” Duncan said. “If you can deliver a [product] to a client in a better way, that’s a win-win.”
Cyberattacks are increasing in size, severity and frequency. Meanwhile, organizations of all sizes and across all industries are susceptible to cyberattacks and must plan ahead for malware, ransomware and other cyber threats.
“[Cybersecurity] is relevant in every industry, and there is real risk out there,” Duncan indicated.
Cybercriminals are constantly searching for new ways to launch attacks against organizations. With the proper approach to cybersecurity, however, an organization can stay ahead of cyberattacks.
Finance professionals should prioritize cybersecurity investments. There is no telling when a cyberattack might occur, and even a single cyberattack may cause long-lasting brand reputation damage, customer turnover and revenue loss. Comparatively, if finance professionals invest in cybersecurity technologies and training, they could help their respective organizations combat cyberattacks both now and in the future.
“You need to make sure your security is up to par … and ensure your IT team has the reports it needs to keep up with their end of technology bargain,” Duncan said.