There is no doubt that the explosion of technology has impacted every sector in the world, from cloud-based platforms to credit to entirely new digital services. The pace of technological change is incredible and the breaking of barriers will create new M&A opportunities for businesses.
Importantly, as firms revolutionise processes to better understand their customer and find the relevant areas of growth, a data-led approach couldn’t be more important for the year ahead. Organisations must rely on data to assess the health of the business, drive growth and spot opportunities that can develop and expand the business. Doing so is the only way to survive…
The explosion of technology will dominate the 2017 agenda
Companies tend to rely on their gut feeling, mixed with traditional data, to drive business growth. This is an expected response but one that is no longer enough in the inter-connected world. This approach must be altered and firms should embrace the community that live on the internet, social media and other non-traditional sources of media. Crucially, it’s all about connecting existing customer data including financial information or users accounts, with traditional background and non-traditional data.
As the business narrative continues to shift online, social media and web content will only grow in prominence. Non-traditional data and news content is going to dominate the 2017 agenda even further and businesses must harness this type of information to create a more comprehensive and balanced sentiment.
Just recently, Donald Trump wiped $3.5 billion off of Boeing’s business with a single tweet; to take from Warren Buffet, it takes 20 years to build a strong reputation, but only 5 minutes to destroy it in the now digitally native world.
Emerging technology, such as blockchain and cyber security, will also disrupt the way firms operate. Businesses must decide which digital tool will be most disruptive and research the best way to embrace and integrate said technologies. Encompassing this sort of forward facing approach is the only way businesses can unlock additional and unidentified context, and ultimately create a complete picture of the ever-evolving business environment.
The continued evolution of financial decision makers who must drive business growth
The role of the modern day CFO is very different to just five years ago. Technology continues to disrupt all industries and the CFO’s responsibilities has shifted from being a financial steward to a growth driver. This is a reflection of a modernisation of the role and impact of technology.
The CFO must be a thought-leader but cannot do everything alone; it’s both impossible and extremely inefficient to expect them to do so. They need access to the resources and functions that are currently shrinking, and data can help uncover the insight needed to drive financial growth, while navigating the political and cultural obstacles impacting firms every single day.
2017 is going to be a year of volatile business transition as worldwide markets continue to impact all operations. The relationship between the CFO and CIO will continue to grow in importance, alongside the emergence of technology.
As the CFO looks to drive the value of the business, the CIO must help craft a competitive advantage; the only way to achieve this will be by opening the door to innovative technology. Crucially, a data-led service is the only platform that will enable this to be much easier and aid the role of the CFO.
Political uncertainty going into 2017 only highlights the need for smart data
Customers demand much more and businesses must traverse the troubling political landscape, while continuing to grow the business. Firms looking to combat the tentative business opinion and navigate fluctuating global markets should rely on data as the key to unlocking smart growth and mitigating risks.
Markets will continue to hamper international businesses, and Brexit and Trump’s ascension to power served a surprise to certain businesses. In terms of Brexit, Article 50 will set off the process but the UK is unlikely to feel the trade impact until France and Germany hold their own elections. The close ties with neighbouring countries are likely to sway the UK’s decision on whether a hard Brexit is the best choice. Until then, hesitation is expected as businesses look to operate and grow.
For the US, the impact of Trump will materialise much sooner, especially given he has power in senate but the extreme changes initially mentioned by the president haven’t come to fruition (yet). The US markets stabilised much quicker as a result, although we expect great change and uncertainty moving into 2017.
Tim Vine is the European head of trade credit at Dun & Bradstreet.