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Things to Consider for 2018 across Finance and Shared Services

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Every year we are all inundated with various pundits’ views of what’s in store for the New Year. We are only 16 days into 2018 and already there’s a vast amount to digest.

We therefore thought we would try and take our own medicine of simplification and standardization – as we do with processes, systems, policies and procedures.

Here’s what we think is in store for 2018, and not just in the world of shared services. 

In no specific order…

1) Data and Analytics

‘Big Data’ has largely been simplified to just ‘data.’ Over the course of 2018 we will continue to see a big focus on exploiting available data and creating actionable insight, for the right people at the right time. Now is the era of analytics - the time for talk is over – Just Do It!

2) Investing in New Tech and Making Current Tech Work Harder

There’s no shortage of new technologies claiming to be able to change the way we work, and certainly we will see a big influx of process specific Applications, Analytics, Robotics and AI taking center stage this year. Yet it’s crucial to also ensure that we are ‘sweating the assets’ represented by our current IT investments. Some of the key themes this year will be; hub and spoke application architectures, making the most of core ERPs, process specific cloud apps and RPA as a rapid application integration technology. Cloud-based SAAS models are gaining more traction as  businesses look to their own supply chains for ‘uberization’. But, as always, ‘the best automation is elimination!’

3) Expect disruption to continue with technology and digital

Keeping pace with innovation and disruption is set to be a challenge: Well-established multinational organizations are struggling to keep up with more agile, tech-driven competitors. Leaders need and must have crucial oversight on innovation. Technology innovation is arguably only valuable where it drives business innovation. Be careful not to attempt managing this innovation with old risk management perspectives. Be sure that your new approach is genuinely driving the right outcomes.

4) Robotics, RPA and AI
Be sure to not confuse Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with industrial robotics. However, RPA is here to stay and is driving impressive time to value for many organizations. But remember, RPA is about ‘fixing the potholes on the road, not building the new highway’. As an application integration technology and elimination of repetitive tasks, RPA can achieve outstanding results, but remember to get your processes and data in shape first!

Often confused with RPA, but it is indeed a very different discipline, is AIAI. AI has been on the horizon for a long time now and we are starting to see its value in our daily lives. Exploiting AI does not require us all to hire armies of PhD data scientists. We can instead exploit AI enabled services that already exist. We will see more AI and specifically, Machine Learning, entering enterprise business processes this year. Low hanging fruit includes improving the quality of master data, identifying errors and exceptions and streamlining processes.

5) Blockchain
You can’t open a magazine or a web page without being bombarded with Blockchain and its potential. There are however still a lot of practical issues to resolve and many vested interests. With some notable exceptions in specific industries (Finance/Banking) where ‘smart contracts’ particularly will make headway for some counterparty communities, it would be wise to wait and learn from the experiences of early adopters, from both a business and technology perspective. When presented with great opportunities to exploit Blockchain in your business, have razor sharp focus on the business problem to be solved before exploring the unique features of a potentially enabling technology.

6) Cybersecurity
We are in a new era where we have to learn to live with cyber risk. This year will continue to see a laser focus on this topic, with new reports out in early January on major new chip technology exposures that will embolden further cyberattacks.

The WannaCry ransomware virus that attacked hundreds of well-known organisations worldwide in 2017 turned out to be a serious eye-opener for many organizations. The NHS, FedEx, Deutsche Bahn and Telefonica were just some of the big names that the virus hit, emphasising weaknesses in IT systems that contained considerable amounts of sensitive personal information. Executives are now aware, but this is just early days!
There remains a persistent gap between awareness and preparedness. Reports indicate that 62 per cent of businesses expect cyber risk to cause disruption within the next three years, yet nearly three-quarters reported poor cyber maturity.

7) Identity and Access Governance
As our landscape of systems and technology usage continues to expand, together with the change in working practices and the ‘gig economy’, challenges are multiplying. Whether as a result of data protection requirements, governance obligations, cyber threats or plain fraud, waste and error, many organizations are unable to assure the identity of those accessing critical systems and data, and the access methodologies themselves. The issue is no longer just about ‘joiners, movers, delegation, and leavers’ in an organization, but beyond the four walls with outsourcers, contractors, consultants, suppliers, business partners and customers. Some of the biggest personal data thefts of recent years have been facilitated by this broader ecosystem of technology access. This remains a big challenge for the coming years.

With the GDPR deadline a matter of months away (25th May) make sure you are staying up to date with the need to know details and how it will impact your organization. Visit for up to date information. 

8) Global Business Processes – enter the GPO

Over the years it’s fair to say that the interconnectedness of our business operations today, whilst driving operating efficiency and simplicity at one level, have also created a ‘blind side’ for the business. Who really understands the end to end process cycles and nuances? How do we optimize, improve or transform something we don’t fully understand? The appointment of GPOs (Global Process Owners) will accelerate this year, not just within Shared Services

Organizations, who started the charge, but at executive levels across the business. These business leaders will take end to end accountability for performance, risk, operations and results leading to some further breaking down of traditional functional silos.

9) Enterprise Risk Management

There is a groundswell of opinion now that agrees ‘risk focus’ is a must. We are moving from a world which has been dominated by policy and control, driven in large part by the compliance regimes of the last decade, towards a broader, more holistic approach to understanding and managing risk and opportunity in the business. With the emergence of so many compliance, regulatory and industry requirements, duplication of risk management and controls effort has become commonplace. Now is the time to take a broader view and eliminate redundant or duplicated effort. Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) provides a stable framework for considering risk in all businesses, and recognizing that risk is part of achieving any outcome. 

10) Digital Transformation and the ‘Uberization’ of Business

There is too much talk about the technology side of this and not enough on business innovations. Amazon was the original poster child for the ‘death of distance’ in business, inventing a new business model which is still resonating in businesses across industries, around the world. Uber are the new poster child for both the shift in the service model and the ‘gig economy’. The focus for the coming year must be to focus on the ‘transformation’ element: How is our market changing our customers  and our supply chain? How can we create a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our customers? What products do we need to serve us for the future? Our customers may find our traditional products and method of engagement ‘clunky’. Customers are more and more looking for the value in the product usage, without the overhead of dealing with the product itself. The shift to services is happening in every industry. Just as Uber is not a taxi company (ignoring the legal nuances!) but is, instead a flexible transportation service, how do we reshape our businesses for the future? Only then, do we need to worry about the ‘digital’ piece.

11) Talent

Finally and by no means last, talent. Defining the future operating models, will inevitably force us to work hard to identify the skills we need to hire, develop and retain in an environment where expectations of employment are changing. What are the skills we need in shared services as we extend the reach of global processes and advanced technologies? How do we get the level of deep end to end business process skills and knowledge into our business?

These are just some of the key trends that were shared with us by Consider Solutions as they began to digest what 2018 looks like for both shared services and businesses in general.

If you think we have missed any trends then get in touch [email protected] and let us know. We will be monitoring all of these trends over the coming year here on 

This article has been re-purposed courtesy of Consider Solutions you can find the original article here

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