December 16, 2020

President’s Keynote: How BlackLine Is Helping Customers Adapt to a Changing World

President’s Keynote: How BlackLine Is Helping Customers Adapt to a Changing World Image | BlackLine Magazine

Bringing resilience and agility to a changing business world. This was a central point in BlackLine President Marc Huffman’s BeyondTheBlack keynote, Beyond 2020: Leading with Resilience & Agility.

This year, he said, “has challenged us to rethink everything. And this year has been an incredible test for business—especially for Finance and Accounting—with COVID-19 bringing an unprecedented wave of disruption.”

The pandemic has been particularly difficult for F&A organizations that are still relying on traditional manual accounting processes. Huffman pointed out that manual accounting is not sustainable because it takes too long, creates unnecessary risk, hurts morale and productivity, and simply costs too much.

“The crisis has taught us that business resilience depends on reacting in real time—in hours or days, not weeks and months,” he said. “The expectations for Accounting have changed: the business needs data as it happens. Enabling your business with agility requires you to execute Accounting continuously so you can guide the business in real time.”

BlackLine’s unified cloud platform helps customers do just that by centralizing all data, documentation, and close activities in the cloud. Customers can automate repetitive manual tasks to:

  • Enable higher-value work
  • Build accuracy, control, and consistency into processes
  • Drive accountability, collaboration, and visibility across the entire close process

3 Steps to Innovating for the Controllership

But, as Huffman pointed out in his keynote, these benefits are just the beginning of BlackLine’s evolution to become what he calls an indispensable platform for the business’ controllership.

As our first step, he says that BlackLine will:

  • Increase our functional innovation by investing development resources to rapidly advance platform functionality
  • Expand our solution footprint to include end-to-end optimization and automation for accounting areas other than the financial close
  • Revolutionize your journey as a customer by removing any transformation roadblocks

An example of functional innovation is BlackLine Account Analysis, a new feature scheduled for release in 2021. According to Huffman, this is “just one of many enhancements we’re announcing this year.”

BlackLine Account Analysis analyzes unmatched transactions and aging items in high-volume, high-risk accounts and generates action plans to help with resolutions. It’s well suited to highly complex reconciliation scenarios, such as procure-to-pay processes, that require careful tracking.

Step 2: Expanding BlackLine’s Footprint with Rimilia

Huffman announced another new solution at BeyondTheBlack—BlackLine Cash Application. This marks the first solution to come out of BlackLine’s October acquisition of Rimilia, an AI-powered, cloud-based platform that specializes in accounts-receivable (AR) automation to help companies track their cash position.

“There’s an enduring nature to cash,” says Huffman. “You carry it on the balance sheet, and even in an era of Bitcoin and Venmo, it’s never going out of style. That’s why the acquisition of Rimilia is important to us and to our customers.”

Huffman then introduced Rimilia’s Kevin Kimber, now Managing Director of BlackLine’s new AR Automation global business unit.

Kimber detailed Rimilia’s business model and explained how it will evolve to become the newest BlackLine business unit. Kimber demonstrated the new product, shared a number of customer successes to date, and invited customers to learn more about BlackLine Cash Application via a special track of AR automation breakout sessions.

Step 3: A New Customer Framework

“The third way we’re investing and innovating to be your most indispensable platform is by redoubling BlackLine’s focus on customers,” Huffman said. To do that, and to help customers accelerate solution optimization, BlackLine announced a new customer journey framework: the BlackLine Collaborative Accounting Experience.

The framework, which will grow throughout 2021, consists of:

  • The Modern Accounting Playbook—A set of pre-formed use cases to help speed adoption of new software
  • Accelerators—A catalog of service offerings and hands-on workshops delivered by BlackLine Customer Success teams
  • Catalysts—End-to-end accounting use cases designed to solve challenges for specific business processes, industries, ERPs, and regulatory standards

Huffman noted that the new framework contents are based on insights and learnings gathered from nearly 300,000 accountants across more than 3,200 BlackLine customers.

“With the wisdom derived from over 8,000 CSM interactions, 24,000 services projects, 800,000 service hours, and 600 partner enablement sessions, we built these leading practices to help you get the most out of BlackLine and achieve the tangible benefits of modern accounting.”

In This Together

These collaborations, and the Collaborative Accounting Experience itself, point to an important fact:

“We are in this together,” says Huffman, also noting the importance of BlackLine’s partners “as a community of expertise dedicated to building a foundation for success, accelerating progress, and catalyzing change for a resilient future.”

Read our BeyondTheBlack issue of BlackLine Quarterly for more stories like this. We dive into some of the highlights from our annual event, including our inspiring keynotes, the SAP track, and stories about these sessions:

  • Leading with Resilience & Agility: Make the Move to Modern Accounting
  • A Better Way to Unify & Reconcile Data
  • Eliminating Spreadsheet Gymnastics in Your Payroll & T&E

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