In today’s compliance and business climate, revenue management has moved from a minor back-office consideration to a strategic imperative. The interest in revenue management was on full display at our recent RevConnect 2018 conference. While the event has come to a close, we wanted to share some of the highlights around the Modern Finance discussion from the keynote presentation given by Aptitude Software CEO, Tom Crawford and RevStream founder and now Aptitude Software Chief Revenue Officer, Rajiv Chopra.
What is the Modern Finance Office?
We hear the term so often, but what does this mean in a practical sense? For Crawford and Chopra, the modern CFO office sees its role as a balance of innovation and control. Every business has been challenged with pursuing innovation within a controlled environment. However, in the last 10 years we've seen:
- business models get more complicated
- digital models explode the volume of transactions
- consumers pushing for new products and services
The world is moving faster and is more complex. Finance has to approach their role with an innovative mindset while ensuring the controls are in place - to make sure the business understands its financial position and can meet statutory requirements. Today’s business’s must be able to successfully navigate the fast paced environment we exist in.
“How can finance support innovation and control. Well, it’s got to get its head out of the sand it's got to lift above it. It's got to be able to have its house in order.”
Tom Crawford, Aptitude Software CEO
Part of the keynote discussion included stories of creative companies doing well using innovation to modernize their business within a tightly controlled environment. Michelin star rated London restaurant, The Fat Duck, produces highly creative dishes – executed with strict process guides and tightly controlled cooking temperatures. Napa winery Opus One pursued the creation of the greatest wine in the world – using some of the most sophisticated processes and technologies available, and finally, SpaceX imagined nothing short of the perfect rocket launch – with the engineering and financial control to deliver it at 10% of the cost of alternatives. Great examples of equally applied innovation and control in business.
Just as these examples outline, in order to modernize your finance office you’ve got to be forward looking and pay attention to the details of your business. Financial controls are in place, you know why they exist, you know how important they are. But, you also need to take care of process. You need precision, you need data, you need analytics, you need enabled results for a strong organization, you need to hedge your risks, and very importantly you need to be forward looking. Crawford and Chopra continued on to outline some of the key aspects of today’s modern finance office.
Modern Finance is knowing when to scale
It was this forward-looking approach that led Aptitude Software and RevStream to join forces according to both speakers. Together, they realized, they can combine, scale together and go to the global market with the same passion, the same finance specialist DNA that they had individually, but with a multi-product offering. Chopra showed the audience how Aptitude Software’s suite of products fit in with existing systems - “It's modular - you can pick and choose what you want, they all connect with other systems really well, it's pretty intelligent, it's deep. So together the combined portfolio is powerful.”
Modern Finance is finding the finance rock stars
The discussion turned to finance rock stars, those who elevate the role of the finance team to allow the whole business to function smarter. Many of Aptitude Software and RevStream customers demonstrate this. Customers who create the processes to allow the space, the time, and the data, to provide energy and fuel back into their business to grow it. When you innovate your back office, you elevate finance to the rock star space. These customers have harnessed innovation and control and strived towards modern finance offices. Crawford remarked, “you’re not surprised when something comes down the line and is being launched because you’re in sync. You are helping drive a very profitable, very sustainable business growth because you have gained control of that nature and have asserted yourselves in the business.”
Modern Finance is embracing change
Both Crawford and Chopra noted that system modernization is difficult. But, modernization is not just about having the best software, it's hiring the right talent with the foresight to think beyond the technical aspects of accounting. Finance teams of the future will shrink and it's not a bad sign to move some of the things that are done today by humans to intelligent systems. Systems can provide data so much quicker and with greater accuracy and so, Crawford suggests, “you're going to be hiring more operational focused people. Data scientists. Analysts. The roles are changing quite a lot and embracing technology is pretty key.”
Modern Finance is growth through analytics
Chopra then announced the new RevStream analytics product. “This is not just a finance and accounting tool. It's an application that helps the business, all the way from defining product offerings to how you price them, to closing and reports. You can manage your contracts. Finally, something that you can use to harness all the rich data within RevStream with some pretty cool features so very excited to announce that.”
Ending with some final thoughts from Crawford.
“If you don't innovate you're not serving your business, you're abdicating your responsibility. For a modern finance office to succeed there must be a healthy mix of forward thinking innovation and back office control, utilizing the best systems and the best people in the right place.”
How is your company innovating the back office?