Thack Brown, COO of SAP North America brought on two guests from Nike, a customer that SAP and BlackLine share: Chris Brown, Sr. Director of Global Controlling Operations; and Chris Beltran, Global Product Manager.
Over the last decade, Nike has transformed its go-to-market strategy from a wholesale model to a direct-to-consumer model. To accommodate this, the company had to overhaul their technology and product offerings, and in the process, found that they could use automation to support all of their backend operations.
The discussion centered on the relationship between Finance and IT, and how Nike promotes business partnership between the two.
The Finance organization has needed to be more engaged with the business throughout the entire strategy shift, and automation has helped to minimize transactional work and free up resources to participate in more value-added activities.
Similarly, Beltran points out that business partnership is an important function for IT. In terms of undergoing digital organizational and financial transformation, IT is vital to help business leaders identify the right technology solutions for the company.
Both guests noted that in this process, it is important to promote transparency and open communication throughout an organization to keep employees engaged.
Here is some of their advice:
- Think about the foundational process you’re trying to automate and go from there
- With automation, you lose tribal knowledge. It’s important to keep people around who know how things worked before the technology
- Know the grey—map out how to get from where your processes are now to where you want them to be without incurring huge technical debt
- If you can tie a proposal for technology transformation to 3-5 current strategic drivers for the business, you’re likely to get support from leadership