BeyondTheBlack Keynotes: Weighing the Importance of Time


5-minute read

One of the most important factors in building a world-class finance organization is time. Use it well, and you can bring unheard-of value to your organization and your entire enterprise. Use it badly, and you risk falling behind your competitors.

This was a central theme of this year’s BeyondTheBlack keynote presentations by BlackLine executives.

“You all know it,” BlackLine CEO Marc Huffman told accounting and finance professionals in his opening presentation. “The pressures and elevated expectations on Accounting are at a breaking point. There simply isn’t enough time.”

The solution isn’t to find more time, he noted, but to make better use of the time that’s available.

“This is not just about the time you have to do your work. This is about doing the right work, and doing it well. More than ever, Accounting and Finance must be treated as a strategic resource, one that’s focused on investigation, analysis, forecasting, modeling, and business partnering to enable the organization’s success.”

As for BlackLine, Huffman said, “We must continue innovating to enable the strategic role of Accounting. You count on us and we are committed to delivering for you.”

BlackLine Product & Strategy Announcements

He then reviewed some of the year’s major announcements:

New AR Automation Suite

This suite unifies BlackLine’s Cash Application with credit and risk management, collections strategies, disputes, and deductions management to enable risk-based priorities for teams with clear, real-time intelligence they can turn into working capital.

Account Analysis Solution

A solution that helps companies analyze unmatched transactions in high-volume, high-risk accounts to provide a clear process for identifying, tracking, managing, and resolving exceptions.

Updated User Interface

We’ve updated the familiar BlackLine experience with modern design elements to create a more consistent feel across the BlackLine platform.

BlackLine Financial Operations Management

A new accounting orchestration strategy that will form a central place for integrating, orchestrating, and automating key accounting processes while providing visibility and intelligence across the accounting landscape.

New Accelerators & Catalysts

Fresh components for the new Collaborative Accounting Experience include a number of BlackLine Accelerators and Catalysts that run atop the Modern Accounting Playbook, the leading-practice-based foundation that can help customers modernize balance-sheet reconciliations and close processes in as few as 90 days.

Looking Into the Future of Finance

Huffman also shared results of several studies that pointed out the key issues facing today’s and tomorrow’s accounting teams.

In one finding, Huffman noted that C-suite leaders’ trust in financial data accuracy is declining. “Perhaps it’s because so much of finance and accounting team capacity remains buried in transactional work.”

In another finding, 94% of accounting and IT professionals said that financial close activities get in the way of strategic work. And, in a different report, just 14% of CFOs said they are confident they currently have the skills they need within the finance function to prioritize for what’s next.

Many of those skills are likely to be strategic in nature, since more than half of CAOs say that financial systems integration is now in high demand.

Meanwhile, the accounting workload grows more complex, with one survey projecting that nearly one-third of C-level executives are now planning to focus on acquisitions and growth into international markets.

“All of this,” Huffman told BeyondTheBlack attendees, “is not just about the time you have to do your work. It is about doing the right work and doing it well. You have more on your plates than ever.

Now is the time to reimagine your traditional accounting processes and see how BlackLine’s capabilities can unlock time.”

Additional Keynote Speakers

In addition to Huffman, speakers at this year’s BeyondTheBlack keynote included:

  • Tammy Coley, BlackLine Chief Transformation Officer, who described how the Modern Accounting Playbook, Accelerators, and Catalysts combine with BlackLine guidance to add substance to the Collaborative Accounting Experience; {add link to next story}

  • Mark Partin, BlackLine CFO, who explained how accounts receivable is no longer a tactical back-office function and how, by releasing cash from the balance sheet, it can be turned into a strategic growth driver;

  • David Brightman, BlackLine (title), who showed how intercompany accounting can be turned from a distracting necessity into a competitive advantage, an essential improvement that’s needed more than ever, thanks to today’s increasing M&A activity;

  • Manoj Narayan, BlackLine Senior VP, who provided detailed descriptions of how BlackLine’s Financial Operations Management will serve as a leading-practice platform for key accounting processes such as payroll clearing, T&E clearing, and lease clearing; and

  • Vin Messina, BlackLine (title), who showed how a triangular framework can help accounting and finance determine how accountants’ time spent on manual processes and risk mitigation can be redirected toward adding strategic value to the organization.

BlackLine Awards for 2021

During his keynote, Marc Huffman also mentioned some of the awards BlackLine won this year:

  • We earned the 2020 Gartner Peer Insights Customers' Choice award for Cloud Financial Close solutions

  • BlackLine is a Leader in G2's grid for Best Financial Close Software and was named a Top Finance Product two-years running

  • Trust Radius awarded us first place for Customer Support, Usability, and Feature Set

  • We won the 2021 SAP Pinnacle Award for Partner of the Year In The Solution Extensions Category

  • Nucleus Research recently found that BlackLine customers get $2.77 back from every dollar spent on our solutions

  • The Software Report ranked BlackLine #20 globally on the 2021 list of top 100 software companies

Get your copy of our latest issue of BlackLine Quarterly for meaningful, actionable insights that will help you make better use of your—and your company’s—valuable time.