As CFOs start a new and intriguing year, the question arises: What should populate their agenda? We heard from numerous finance leaders and experts at SuiteWorld 2023, NetSuite’s annual user conference, and they were brimming with fresh and challenging ideas that can help companies right now.
Some ideas are super practical, some are more big picture. The ideas fell under five themes including how to derive value from AI (surprise, surprise), ways to stay ahead of new regulations, and how automating financial fundamentals is essential to retaining your superstar talent, not just getting the most out of them. Here’s a sampling.
Automate Finance Fundamentals
Particularly as businesses grapple with the accountant shortage, automation is key to get the work done and, just as importantly, attract and retain talent. In a survey by FloQast, more than 60% of accountants reported that technology is more important to their job satisfaction today than it was two to three years ago, with 43% being “extremely likely” to ask about technology in a job interview. High-impact areas to automate include invoice processing, the financial close, and internal controls. With much of the manual ticking and tying automated, accountants are free to focus on more strategic, value-add tasks.
Start Experimenting With AI
Martin Kon, president and COO of enterprise AI provider Cohere, had a clear message when he spoke on stage at SuiteWorld 2023: Businesses that can quickly find practical uses for generative AI will gain a sizable advantage. His advice for CFOs? Pick something and start with it. Encourage experimentation and the idea of starting small, but apply AI where success will actually matter to the business. One easy way to start is to experiment with generative AI built into business applications. For example, NetSuite announced a capability called Text Enhance that embeds generative AI into the suite to help fill in various fields. Businesses can use it to generate product descriptions, performance goals with employee-specific target metrics, and narrative reporting to accompany financial data.
Get Ahead of Emerging Regulations
2024 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in terms of new regulation as companies prepare for changes in areas including ownership disclosures, tax code changes, and climate change reporting. Perhaps one of the most significant shifts worth noting is the growing number of e-invoicing mandates globally. More than 80 countries already require it, per tax compliance provider Avalara, and other areas, including the European Union, have plans for broad adoption. With e-invoicing likely to be required soon in a country where you do business, it’s worth getting ready now by implementing an e-invoicing system that adheres to the required set of standards and data formats.
The CFO’s crystal ball takes center stage in 2024. The importance of near real-time visibility and responsive planning was an underlying theme at SuiteWorld 2023, with executives noting the increased significance of frequent forecasting, KPI monitoring, and detecting disruptions early. A foundation of effective prognostication lies in strong cash management. Organizations can’t create forecasts or chart scenarios for the business without an accurate view into their cash position. Automation can improve cash management in two ways: by helping send invoices and collect payments faster, and by reducing the work required to get the cash flow metrics and projections financial leaders need. Making this a reality starts with accurate, real-time, and expansive financial data. Then you can automate much of the invoice creation and distribution process to help decrease days sales outstanding.
Empower Your Teams
Businesses have put a lot of money and energy into gathering accurate, up-to-date data. However, there has been a disconnect between insights and action. Forrester finds 74% of companies want to be “data-driven,” yet only 29% are actually successful at connecting analytics to action. Time to break the cycle and get your teams easy access to accurate data. An ERP system that can bring data from across the business into a single, centralized database will provide a big assist in supporting a data-driven culture. Even better if the system has real-time dashboards to help inform everyday decision-making. “Insight without action is just trivia,” said NetSuite Senior Vice President Gary Wiessinger, in his SuiteWorld 2023 keynote,
Want to learn more? Check out the full business guide, The CFO Agenda: 24 Ideas for 2024, for 24 specific steps in these areas to help chart a strong roadmap for 2024.
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