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Corporate Finance Cloud Technology Webinar - The Evolving Role of Finance Leaders Owning Technology

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Corporate Finance Cloud Technology WebinarAs the role of the finance continues to evolve the office of the CFO now has much more ownership of technology adoption. Finance leaders need to not only understand which systems his or her staff need, but the needs of company employees across the enterprise that impact productivity, support growth, and drive profitability. This webinar illustrates how finance leaders can successfully own technology across the enterprise by leveraging current and emerging trends in cloud and related technologies. Content also includes a discussion of how Finance leaders can partner with IT leaders in delivering technology that drives top line growth in addition to operational efficiencies; and a case study from a CFO who has successfully leveraged Cloud Technology to drive efficiencies and drive top line growth through improved analytics.


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This Corporate Finance Cloud Technology Webinar video is from the Proformative webinar "The Evolving Role of Finance Leaders: Owning Technology Optimization" held on November 14, 2012. The webinar features presentations from Kelly Bodnar Battles, CFO, Host Analtyics and Tom Kelly, Managing Director, T-Edward, Inc.


Corporate Finance Cloud Technology Webinar


John: "Next up, we do have a number of running objectives this morning. I'm not going to go through this entire list here, but the long-and-short of it is there's an amazing amount of technology. I mean, never has there been this much technology available to finance, accounting, and treasury organization in the corporate world and it's available across the spectrum from on-premise to Cloud-based technologies, to mobile.

What we're hoping we get across to you today is some perspectives from longtime practitioners who really leverage technology in their finance organizations, not only at their current companies, but at multiple companies that they may consult with. We hope that you come away with not only sort of a survey of what's available out there and how leaders in finance are using that, but also some ideas for what you might be able to do at your company.

Without further ado, why don't we go ahead and get into the first presentation today and that's going to be led by Tom Kelly. Tom is Managing Director at T-Edward, Inc., and as a managing director of T-Edward, Tom serves as strategic partner and CFO for several unique client companies.

Just a selection of Tom's portfolio includes companies such as Kardia Health Systems and OnPoint Medical Diagnostics, two organizations that were created by commercializing software IT from leading healthcare institutions. TriPrima, Inc., which offers computing infrastructure and storage as a service delivered in the private Cloud and Feedlogic Corporation, a leader in intelligent feed systems and informatics for livestock.

Tom has held senior management positions with large publicly-held companies like PepsiCo and Deluxe Corporation, as well as small cap and privately-held entities. Tom is a CPA with an MBA in finance from Florida University and a BA in accounting from NC State University. Tom, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

Tom: Thank you, John. Let's get right into it here. Let's talk about how the Cloud can primarily transform your role as CFO. Back in my day when I started, this was the first thing I used in order to add numbers together, the abacus, but frankly speaking I'm sure we've all been there with the adding machine and the tape, punching in numbers and doing all the great stuff.

In terms of our progression as a group, I think then we moved up from, let's say, green eye shade to bean counter. Once again, kind of being viewed as just the person who's going to crunch the numbers, not really leveraging technology to the extent that we could for various reasons that we'll get into here in a little bit. Then all of a sudden, we can start to adopt some of this technology. We start to leverage the old technology.

Given the challenge, the opportunity, whatever you choose to use there, it became quite a challenge to, let's say, connect all of your systems together. My days were spent, many at management meetings arguing whose information was right - the VP of sales, the VP of Manufacturing, the finance CFO, the CEO. Coming into the meeting we all have our sheets of paper coming off our disparate systems and we're trying to make sense of what's going on with the business, and know that the 20 shall meet.

Many of you probably embarked on putting the wonderful BI tool in the middle which can help, but without having it in the Cloud, I can speak from experience it was quite unsuccessful in many regards. To where we are today and as John had mentioned and as my colleague here on the call, Kelly [inaudible 00:03:48] will talk later, leveraging Cloud technology.

If I had to give you an analogy of this, that's a picture of Ed Harris who played the NASA control gentleman Gene Kranz. Mission control, when you think about that analogy, if you can leverage Cloud technology you'd be amazed at how close you can become to almost being mission control for your organization in all aspects of your organization.

As I talk about becoming mission control, what we're able to do by leveraging some of the Cloud-based technology that's available to us today, is you can become this person that would provide the historical backward-looking information. In other words, "This is what we sold. This is what we sold it at. We're probably about three weeks out from the prior month." Pretty much everybody in the organization is on to the next thing, trying to drive the business forward. Yet, we're working with this historical information that, believe or not, even in a three week time frame can be considered out of date.

What we're able to do now, relative to Cloud platforms, is the information is real-time. So as an example, if finance decided to put a customer on credit hold and that salesperson is actually sitting in a meeting talking to that customer, you can literally setup alerts that will also, all of a sudden, pop up on your smart phone, pop up on your tablet, that's going to tell you, "This customer has just been placed on credit hold." You're even going to have the ability to drill into that and find out why they placed that credit hold. Talking about real-time that's up to the minute.

Editor's Note: The Proformative library of webinars via video contains a massive quantity of videos on many different topics, including Emerging Market Strategies Webinar, Business Analytics Webinar, Business Intelligence Webinar, Corporate Financial Reporting Webinar and Renminbi Rebalancing Webinar. Proformative also offers an ongoing series of live webinars.

The other thing to think about now, though, is this information is accessible 24/7, 365. Meaning, it's never down, it's always up. It's always available as long as you technically have a high speed Internet connection. What's also interesting in this day and age as we've just seen recently, with the wonderful iPad Mini that's come out, there are a variable amount of devices that you can access this information on. It's not just where you have to be at the office plugged in, but as long as you have a mobile
smartphone or a table, you'd be amazed at the wealth and the breadth of data that you have access to and interact with.

Really, I think when you talk about a business, information is what it's all about. Information is the key thing that's going to help an organization make the right decision. If that information is not timely, not accurate, not accessible you're somewhat dead in the water. You're kind of operating with a historical thing. It's kind of like pushing a cart
where you have the wheels that turn in the back of you. You're trying to angle it and move it. That becomes very, very difficult to navigate.

I'm going to talk about my personal experience and kind of what I've experienced, so I want to go back to 2007. At the time I was at a company called 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment. To say that their IT infrastructure was archaic is an understatement. The point-of-sales system was running on, believe it or not, a FoxPro database and it went worse from there. We were leveraging a version of Outlook that I think was - oh gosh, I think Microsoft had given up supporting it probably three years prior.

If you think about that, you've got this infrastructure, we literally had a closet with servers it and everything and how are you going to get this company to leap forward? To be able to come into the 21st century, if you will, from what I would say is the 19th century, and do in a way that you're not just going to slam stuff in, so that employees are just going to not be able to understand what they're doing, how to interact with the software, what they want to get out of it. If you take an approach and we made a decision, "We're going to put everything into the Cloud."

I'll fast-forward to the point where we literally had a funeral about 12 months later where we literally buried the last server in the ground behind the office. To the point where you would take a situation where you would put something in place, and people could act upon it now and the information would be real-time. Understanding what equipment you sold at what time, if you're having a certain promotion going on. Understanding what type of lift you might get from the radio commercial or TV commercial.

It was pretty profound what we were able to do, but more importantly the 61% annual savings was somewhat eye opening. The analysis here you see, it's 2007 to 2009. What is missing there is the costs that we avoided. One quick thing I'll talk about is with email and calendaring, so Outlook - we were going to have to upgrade the Outlook. If we went that route, we were going to have to buy a new server. We were going to have to upgrade to the new software, pay for the new maintenance, even the situation where you can outsource that today.

You can have a provider who is going to host your email and calendaring, etc., we chose Google Apps. One other thing I'll point out about that, this was 2007 when we chose Google Apps. Google did not have any mobile offering. It was minimal. I mean, you couldn't access anything on a smartphone. Think about where that's at today, for those of you who are familiar with it. In five years, I would tell you that that offering is probably the most robust mobile capability provided to you whether it's the devices that are coming from Google, the company itself, or any other mobile device.

The point that I want to make here is that this was a decision that was made holistically with the organization, so it required collaboration of all the functions, and primarily finance and IT. What was interesting is how much we were able to change that IT orientation from what I would consider many times an inhibitor when technology is supposed to be an enabler.

Where we changed their role of being the, gestapo "locked down, and you can't have access", to almost the CEO of user experience. Their job was to maximize the user experience regardless of the application, regardless of the hardware you were using, laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. Another interesting this is when we started this we thought it would take us 18 months to get from beginning to end. This is the truth."

End partial: Corporate Finance Cloud Technology Webinar


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