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FinancialForce 2018 Predictions: Tech and Finance Trends to Watch

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Dan Brown, Chief Product Officer, FinancialForce

Tech and Finance Trends to Watch

Postmodern ERP has taken its toll.  In the countertrend, successful companies will consolidate numerous disconnected enterprise applications into fewer, more centralized platforms to streamline their processes, improve insights, and gain business agility.  Having a core platform promotes data-sharing across departmental boundaries, increasing the pace at which they can do business and arming them with the tools and insight required to successfully tackle new market dynamics. We believe we will see successful companies consolidating around the customer master and customer journey, rather than stringing together best-of-breed workloads with lots of integration in between.

Revenue Recognition Reckoning

The shift to new services economy business models requires more complex revenue recognition reporting that manual, Excel-based tracking cannot handle. New standards for reporting services revenue will force many businesses to migrate from spreadsheets to cloud-based revenue management applications capable of ensuring compliance from a single source of truth. The deadline for public companies to comply with regulatory changes - ASC 606 and IFRS 15 - is around the corner, with private companies following a year later, making this an imminent shift for back office finance teams.

Businesses will increase its experimentation with voice

Improvements in natural language understanding and speech recognition technologies will make voice inputs an area of experimentation. Amazon's recent Alexa for Business announcement provides a management plan for the smart office that's powered by digital assistance. Google, Microsoft and Apple are also positioning their assistants for enterprise use cases. While businesses will continue to evaluate voice interaction for the workplace, voice-driven assistants are bottlenecked by severe limitations - most notably around insufficient security and identity protocols - and will require much more refinement and conversational intelligence to be useful.  But they will get there.

AI Becomes Real in the Enterprise

Increasing use of AI in business applications will make predictive analytics and real-time insights available to a wider range of companies. However, many early business AI projects will fail due to the unreliable set of historical data these tools rely on. Organizations will need to return to their core ERP systems to create a better foundation on which their AI systems can then operate - the more historical data available, the more effective AI will be. Companies will also need to recognise the importance of data science expertise, as the more the tools are available to mine the data, the more there is a need for expertise in data science to apply them effectively.

GDPR will shake up the way companies handle data privacy and catch some off guard

Initially companies may have dismissed this as an European Union (EU) only impact, but any company with customers or employees within the EU will need to assess their data privacy strategy and adapt to comply with the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  Consequences of non-compliance could be severe: authorities can fine organizations up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of a company's annual global revenue, based on the seriousness of the damages incurred.  Many companies will be caught off guard, either because they don't understand the ramifications, don't have the expertise to deal with them, or have started to make changes too late to comply.  GDPR will expose companies to expensive non-compliance issues.  Analogous to a ‘denial of service' attack, data privacy activists will challenge top cloud companies Facebook, Google, and Amazon aggressively, testing their ability to comply.  Companies will realize just how deep their data dependence rabbit hole goes, exposing the plethora of vendor relationships they depend on for compliance.

Blockchain business use cases will widen and develop

Blockchain will move from a technology for Bitcoin to wider business use cases.  It will disrupt business applications, but mass adoption will come later than 2018.  Likely use cases include enterprise transaction handling, triple or hyper ledgers, and the automation of smart contracts. The immutability of transactions can be applied to accounting records, and it will provide an unprecedented traceability of historical transactions.  Audits will become trivial.  Meanwhile, Blockchain will also facilitate machine validation of obligations, auto-bill and auto-collect.

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About the Author

Dan Brown 

Daniel Brown is Chief Product Officer at FinancialForce and is responsible for guiding the company's product strategy to deliver on its ambitious growth plans and expanding the size and scope of the product development organization.

Dan joins FinancialForce with over 25 years of business software and SaaS solutions experience, including 15 years at Microsoft Corporation. Dan's most recent Microsoft role was General Manager of Corporate Strategy, where he led the company's internal digital transformation strategy. 

Published Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:36 AM by David Marshall
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