LIVE From InTheBlack 2017: Thrive In The Age of Change


It’s the Night of The Close!

Tonight is the party we’ve all been waiting for: James Corden and Mirage – Visions of Fleetwood Mac will be performing at The Close! This exclusive event is always a conference highlight, and this year’s party promises to be bigger than ever.

Here’s the agenda:

6:30 – 8:00 pm  Food Truck Row

8:00 – 9:00 pm  James Corden Live On Stage

9:00 pm Performance by Mirage – Visions of Fleetwood Mac

KPMG: For Success, Disrupt Finance

Finance must disrupt itself to stay in front of change.

“To thrive in modern finance, you have to be a thinker and really understand the data, implications, and the business,” says Brian Yeager, managing director at KPMG.

Leading finance organizations have developed an agenda to deal with disruption. According to KPMG, a CFO’s best tools are extreme automation, insights and analysis, organizational simplification, and having employees with the right skills and talents.

Tell us what tools your company wants to gain this year at #ITB17.

Learn how BlackLine delivers these tools and helps companies thrive in the age of change.

Accenture Insight: Use Technology to Drive Success

“Technology does not drive your successes, it enables you to be successful,” Alex Kappe, Accenture’s Global RTR Process Director, explains.

BlackLine customer Accenture presented at ITB 2017, sharing how they achieved a faster and more reliable close.

“People, processes, and technology go hand in hand,” says Kappe.

Now with a Finance Department that spans the globe, Accenture has achieved a flexible, standardized close.

Read more about the BlackLine solution Accenture uses to gain speed, quality, predictability, and flexibility in their close.

Matching Millions & Millions of Transactions at SunTrust

Wins & Key Takeaways

  • Automated Reconciliation process: auto-certification, optimize match sets, and archive old data

  • Understand your data: deep-dive into each import file, utilize lookup tables, and stay in touch with source data contacts

  • Employ a reporting power user: build reports to achieve your goals, share knowledge with business segments, and utilize the sandbox for testing

  • Ask for help: from your BlackLine Account Manager and the BlackLine Community―build your network

8 Years of Ingenuity & Continuous Improvement – Presented by Atlas Air

“I have heart palpitations when I think about what it was like before BlackLine,” says Wendy Shapiro, Vice President and Assistant Corporate Controller at Atlas Air.

Their journey has involved the implementation of many BlackLine products, and they gave these recommendations for a successful implementation:

  1. Lay out what you’re trying to accomplish. Implementation will be smoother.

  2. Include your key employees. This helps with change management.

  3. Ensure your processes are complete. Automation can’t fix what isn’t being done.

  4. Be clear on scope and timeline. Scope creep can derail timeline and goals.

  5. Take time to train. Be clear on how and what should be done and document, document, document.

Close Smarter with RPA in SAP

Change is hard. It’s scary and it’s unknown, but it’s also incredibly necessary for companies in an age of exponential innovation.

So how do we stop the fear and start changing with confidence?

This year’s InTheBlack keynote focuses on “Thriving in the Age of Change,” and few companies have modeled that ability as well as Sanoma, a media and advertising company headquartered in Finland.

In 2016, Sanoma was drowning in spreadsheets, spending hundreds of hours on reconciliations and dreading the beginning of another close period as soon as the last one finished. They knew they had to change what they were doing, and a large part of this change involved automation.

As Otto Sillanpaa explains, “Automation needs to happen. It can happen now and be your own choice and on your own timeline, or it can happen in five years as a reactive decision when you’re already behind what other Finance Departments are doing.”

Sanoma’s Finance Department went from no automation in the beginning of 2017 to an 86% automation rate with BlackLine in six months’ time, and their entire business is experiencing benefits from that change. However, Sanoma didn’t always have positive results with making changes to its Finance Department.

Having previously invested in other financial software, Sanoma soon found it to be ineffective for them.

“It was like an expensive dropbox for us,” Otto explains.

So how did a company who had previously tried and failed to improve its finance department find the courage and confidence to try and change again?

“We knew we could do better, and BlackLine showed us how that was possible with their software.”

After experiencing initial success that went above and beyond their expectations, Sanoma is already looking to make more changes on its Continuous Accounting journey.

Catch Sanoma sharing how BlackLine helped them close with confidence during their customer panel at InTheBlack Friday.

If You Don’t Dream It, You Can’t Become It

Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

5 NBA championships, 12-time NBA all-star, #1 ranked point guard of all time, 2-time inductee into the basketball hall of fame, and Olympic gold medalist as part of the dream team.

He was public about HIV at a time when that was unacceptable, and has overcome prejudice and racism without bitterness and with his trademark, beautiful smile.

Today, Earvin’s court is the business world, and he is heroically changing lives as the founder of Magic Johnson Enterprises. Applying what he learned on the basketball court each and every day in business. Empowering communities. Speaking for those who don’t have a voice―because that makes your legacy strong.

Therese had the privilege of interviewing him this morning, and began with this: “When I look at Magic Johnson, I see something rare. I see a man of wisdom. And when you get an opportunity to interview a man of wisdom, you don’t ask him about his best sports moments―you ask him the things that are top of mind, interesting and relevant today.”

First up? The keys to a good marriage. And after 40 years of marriage, these are five things to take to heart:

  • Communication

  • Don’t try to change your partner – accept their flaws

  • Go on the journey together

  • Support your partner’s dreams

  • Never go to bed angry: discuss it and then it ends

Therese and Earvin both understand the power of giving back, which is apparent in this comment from Therese, “Nothing can engineer gratitude better than spending a day with people who have nothing.”

This was at the core of Earvin’s business drive when he began, and it’s still at the heart today. He says, “I wanted to go back into the community I grew up in and hire those people so they can be successful and become our brand ambassadors. They are loyal to our brand, and that’s what you get in urban America.”

Politics today is so ugly and uncivil, but Therese also sees it as a way to give back. She asked Earvin, “How do you give well?” He gave these three steps as his response:

  1. We don’t just write the check, we get involved.

  2. We vet you well – what are you doing and is the money going to the people?

  3. We partner with you to make sure we’re affecting change

Earvin’s admiration for Therese was apparent throughout the session, and he concluded with this inspiring message:

“Here you have two people who the odds were against, but we didn’t care. Everyone said, ‘no way you can do it’ but we didn’t care that people said no because we were going to prove them wrong. We knew what we wanted, that our business strategy was sound. All we needed to do was execute and get one person to believe in what we were selling.

You can be successful. Believe in yourself. Believe in your business strategy. Go out and execute and stand for best in class.”

Continuous Accounting: It's About The People

16/11/2017 11:51

Continuous Accounting: It's About The People

Nicole Sharon Schultz

Continuous Accounting (CA) is not defined by technology or automation, though those are key parts of the story. Instead, it’s really about process, timing, and, most importantly, people. With advancements in technology, the Bookkeer position is fading but the Accountant is thriving!

Finance Departments require a variety of different types of people to run smoothly. Check out Isaac Tucker’s keynote presentation and tag #ITB17 to let us know which you are:

  • Visionary

  • Bellwether

  • Architect

  • Model Accountant

  • Perfectionist

  • Guru

  • Bureaucrat

  • Purist

Haven’t heard about Continuous Accounting? It reduces the amount of work that goes into the financial close and delivers a more balanced, distributed close. With CA, accountants are able to thrive, becoming exceptional accountants.

Read more about Continuous Accounting and Exceptional Accountants.

The Coca-Cola Company Insights: Embrace Technology & Change

The Coca-Cola Company, a customer and presenter at InTheBlack 2017, shares advice for transforming finance functions: embrace technology and change.

Miguel Gonzalez, Global Process and Technology Lead for Finance Operations, shares that before BlackLine, The Coca-Cola Company had been more reactive than proactive for adopting change.

“Don’t wait for everyone else to go first.” Miguel says. “Whatever business you are in, have a strategy and try new technology. It’s ok to start small, but don’t wait.”

Tell us what new technology you want to try out at #ITB17.

Learn more about how to transform your finance functions or read how The Coca-Cola Company standardized their processes, improved control, and increased productivity with BlackLine.

The Digital Finance Revolution - Presented by SAP

"Things have never moved this fast before, and will never move so slow again,” said Todd McElhatton, CFO of SAP North America, as he kicked off his keynote.

He then dove into the three questions that companies need to answer in order to thrive instead of just surviving:

1.     What business do I aspire to be in?

2.     How can we deliver exponentially more value to our customers?

3.     What if I could deliver these products using someone else’s assets and employees?

No one in the organization understands the pressure of change better than the CFO. Yesterday, the CFO was a control function. Today, the CFO is an enabler with much weightier expectations, such as managing risk, volatility, and compliance, and creating greater transparency. But many CFOs feel like they don’t have the bandwidth to take on these additional responsibilities.

What if technology could fill the gap? What if your teams could consist of both machines and humans?

Top companies spend 40% less on finance due to automation, shared services and technology, and the next new trend is blockchain. Todd defines blockchain as a digital ledger for almost anything of value. It reduces the risk of financial transactions and transaction time, and Todd predicts that blockchain will have a real impact on the global economy.

Todd also interviewed Miguel Gonzales, Global Process and Tech Lead for Finance Operations at Coca-Cola, who gave this advice: “Embrace technology, embrace change, and don’t wait until everyone else has done it. Instead, start small and start early to try new technology and measure the value it can bring to your organization.”

Todd ended with this: “The changes we make will have an immense impact on the customers we serve and the world we live in.”

Didn't make it to InTheBlack 2017? Catch the keynote presentations here.