This is post #1 from a 12-part blog series that SAP commissioned from finance expert Steve Player, who runs his own practice, The Player Group and also heads up the Beyond Budgeting Roundtable in North America. This series explores how new technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, and in-memory processing of Big Data are transforming planning, budgeting and forecasting best practices.
Finance professionals, particularly those responsible for planning, forecasting and analysis, face a great paradox. On one hand, we live in a dynamic economy that seems to change at a dizzying pace. On the other hand, our organizations seem to be paralyzed by the tremendous uncertainties being faced.
If you lead FP&A efforts or run a business supported by finance, there is good news: New innovative technologies are creating better ways to plan and control your organizations. These new tools enable planning processes that help overcome uncertainty and drive your organization to higher results.
In the last 13 weeks I have spoken with hundreds of CFOs, controllers and planning directors across four continents. From Boston to Buenos Aires, from London to Lima, Peru, planning departments find a crazy world out there. Everyone must do more with less.
The need for efficiency is challenged by a need to embed planners within the lines of business to better partner with the business to provide faster responses. Executive demand for planning data is also expanding as the consumerization of IT takes hold — they expect information to have the look and feel of consumer apps on their iPads and simply will not wait. To meet these objectives, finance instantly needs information at their fingertips. Multiple means are needed to reach information anywhere.
Once reached, that information must be converted into fact-based decision making. This enables the agility the organization needs to rapidly course correct and adjust plans to achieve better results. The goal is not merely survival, but to thrive on better decisions and faster actions.
This introduces a blog series covering how new innovative technologies expand planning, forecasting and reporting best practices. It focuses on in-memory processing, mobility and cloud computing.
In-memory processing has evolved to address managers’ needs for the right information at the right time. It enables vast quantities of information to be rapidly analyzed. Some refer to this area as Big Data, but I note that large quantities of data have been available for many years. In-memory processing dramatically increases Big Data’s potential by lowering its cost and increasing the speed in delivering new insights.
While managers want information at their fingertips, innovations in mobility have made that a literal reality. This series examines how the FP&A role changes as devices such as the iPad become pervasive.
We will also examine how cloud computing underlies all these developments acting as a technology accelerant. By reducing both the cost and time needed to deploy these innovations, significant total costs of ownership advantages are achieved. Benefits include elimination of infrastructure costs, the speed of deployment, replacing capital costs with operating expenses, and in many cases the ability to leverage existing on premise investments. We will also discuss the very real but harder to quantify nonfinancial benefits such as flexibility in shifting activities which is a great aid in dealing with uncertainty.
Next time we will examine how “Finance Leverages the Cloud.” I look forward to your comments and questions.