For a company seeking new ways to maximize revenue and establish predictable revenue streams, the Finance team would seem the best place to go for guidance.
But many Finance teams continue to employ approaches to planning, reporting, and analysis that lack the speed, flexibility, and ability to provide insight necessary to support their companies' growth goals. To help address this challenge, Host Analytics recently sponsored a webcast with CFO Magazine titled “What Finance Can Do to Help Drive Company Growth.” The featured speakers were Paul Hamerman, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, as well as myself.
Here’s a summary of the key points made during the webcast.
Growth Is Today’s Leading Business Imperative
In the attendee poll taken at the start of the webcast, as well as in some research cited by Paul Hamerman, “revenue growth” is the top initiative for most companies, followed by “improving customer experience.” But many Finance and performance management systems used by companies aren’t set up to support growth. They suffer from a range of things:
- Cumbersome and inflexible planning and budgeting
- Stale business information
- Intermittent collaboration
- Lack of strategic focus
- Lack of insights into revenue and operations
Mr. Hamerman then went on to highlight how organizations can meet these challenges with 5 technology-driven next practices, including dynamic planning, advanced modeling, predictive analytics, digital collaboration within applications, and aligning key Finance initiatives with growth opportunities.
Adopt a Customer-Centric Approach to Drive Revenue Growth
Finance traditionally focuses on 3 “C's” – Control, Compliance, and Cost Management. It must now focus on Customer as well. To enable growth, finance must do the following:
- Streamline deal closure and delivery execution
- Elevate the customer experience in billings and collections
- Integrate revenue plans and performance measures with sales, operational, and accounting systems
- Accelerate cash collection and revenue recognition
Mr. Hamerman then went on to highlight Forrester’s view of Business Technology (BT) vs. Information Technology (IT), and how BT helps companies protect and grow their revenues by winning, serving, and retaining customers. Examples of BT systems include Sales/CRM, Marketing, Customer Service, E-Commerce, Contracts, and EPM.
Use EPM Technology to Accelerate Growth
In his final comments, Mr. Hamerman highlighted the 5 key technology trends driving innovation – and enabling growth – in Finance. This includes the following trends:
- SaaS/Cloud – with 46% of companies recently surveyed saying they had already implemented, or plan to implement, cloud-based Finance applications in the next 2 years
- User Experience and Social Collaboration – including mobile to drive more engagement of employees and customers
- Predictive and Real-Time Analytics – surfaced in-context of the applications
- Integration – to support a continuous flow of information between systems
Adoption of EPM in the Cloud
Following Mr. Hamerman’s comments, I highlighted a few of the key reasons that companies are increasing their adoption of cloud-based Finance and EPM applications. This includes speed, autonomy from IT, faster innovation, no hardware or software to set up or upgrade, lower total cost of ownership, and increased security.
I then provided my recommendations on what companies should look for as they evaluate cloud-based EPM solutions:
- Complete Suite – to address current and future needs
- Comprehensive Reporting – to address the needs of all users
- Excel Used Intelligently – to ease the transition from Excel
- Advanced Modeling – to support “what-if” analysis on financial and operational data
- Multidimensional/OLAP Back-End – to ensure high performance reporting and analysis
- Ability to Unite Finance and Operations – with pre-built operational planning solutions
I also highlighted the advantages and benefits of multi-tenant SaaS solutions over single-tenant and hosted solutions being positioned as “cloud” applications. Then I finished up with a couple of examples of the results customers have achieved by deploying our cloud-based EPM suite.
If you would like to listen to a replay of this webcast, here’s a link to the on-demand version. And if you would like to hear more of Paul Hamerman’s view of what’s happening in the EPM market, here’s a link to a recent research report titled "The EPM Market Landscape Responds to the Growth Agenda and Digital Disruption."