Don’t Throw Out Working Business Strategy in the Name of Reinvention

SAP Concur evolving to support CFOs’ search for greater agility, accuracy and compliance.

Adapting to changes in your business environment is not just about reinvention. Keeping ahead requires constant evolution. In fact, reinvention can lead to poor business decisions: all too often, aspects of the business strategy that are performing well are thrown out in the service of reinvention.

We see successful businesses as ones that developed a ground-breaking product or service from Day One, ones that can disrupt a market and entirely transform it. Netflix is a good example: their focus on data-driven content supported by an easy-to-use streaming service has proven transformational in the film and television business. But Netflix started out as a company that rented out DVDs; over time, as it built iterative improvements to its strategy and introduced and tested new functionality, it evolved into the global business we know today.

Locally, Takealot is a good example of a business that focuses on constant iterative improvements in its offering. Its solid customer service, ever-expanding product categories and strong distribution network has made it the undisputed eCommerce leader in South Africa.

What businesses should strive for is agility, to be able to make better, quicker decisions. For CFOs, this is hugely important. The governance and compliance pressures put on CFOs means there’s no room for mavericks: you need to be able to make responsible, correct decisions. The complexity of the modern business environment also makes it impossible to rely on manual processes alone. CFOs are increasingly reliant on technology tools that can provide certainty and consistency in their decision-making, while minimising their risk.

Risk out, revenue in

From SAP Concur’s perspective, there are three key areas that CFOs should focus on to take risk out of the business and add revenue back in, namely:

  1. Visibility over everything in the business. The truth of modern enterprises is that past investments in multiple technology solutions and data warehouse capabilities, have led to fragmented, siloed and constrained business processes. This leaves many CFOs blind to the business as a whole. Any investment into new technologies should be judged by whether it provides greater visibility.
  2. Greater efficiency in business processes. The arrival of intelligence technology such as AI and machine learning makes it attractive to businesses to invest in shiny new tools to solve tired old problems. The key though is to acknowledge that there is a maturity curve to move from paper-based and stapler processes to complete digital process automation.
  3. An absolute dedication to trust. You need to be able to confidently say that your business is fully compliant with all relevant legislation, no easy task considering just how complex the modern regulatory environment is. But your investment into new technologies, tools and processes should always strive to engender greater trust.

If a new solution ticks one or more of the above boxes, there may be a strong business case for change. And increasingly, CFOs are the drivers of such organisational change, providing insights built on trusted data to influence broader decision-making.

Evolving travel and expense management

The ability to provide accurate, relevant insights to the business based on real-time financial data depends largely on the technology tools in play and the underlying business processes. Compliance processes and company policies should be hard-wired into the software to provide greater ‒ and automated ‒ control over expense claims and travel arrangements.

From a cash management perspective, CFOs at any point in time should be able to see which transactions are taking place, regardless of whether it’s via company-issued credit cards or mobile applications. This level of visibility equips CFOs with real-time insight into which expenses are being accrued and how that affects cash management.

Machine learning and AI should be integrated to the solution to enable more convenient capture and processing of expense and travel data. This frees up valuable time and resources to focus on more high-value work within the business.

SAP Concur has committed to the process of constant evolution to ensure it delivers simple, compliant and transparent employee spend management. This evolution is seeing the opening up of the SAP Concur ecosystem to enable application developers to more easily integrate innovative new use cases with the core system, extending it to a broader pool of customers and delivering greater agility and accuracy to the financial professionals that rely on it.

AP Concur is a principal sponsor at this year’s CFO Day, one of the headline calendar events for chief financial officers and financial directors across the country. This year’s event will take place on Tuesday 23 July at Marble Restaurant in Johannesburg, and will explore how financial leaders can manage rapidly evolving technology, political uncertainty and escalating competition while still delivering expert strategy, guidance and insight-driven decisions.