Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 20, 2017

Do you want to keep up to date with the latest developments in finance, but you are short of time? Don’t worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience.

1. Is the End of 'Inventory Lite' in Sight?
After 15 years of great success in boosting its operating cash-flow via "inventory lite" strategies, corporate America may be reaching the limit of how much cash it can generate via working capital management, according to an author of a new study on corporate cash generation by the Georgia Tech Financial Analysis Lab. And if profits continue to remain sluggish, CFOs will find their companies unable to kick out the kind of cash needed to continue to offer shareholders the big dividends and buybacks they've been dishing out in recent years.

2. What's now and next in analytics, AI, and automation
Rapid technological advances in digitization and data and analytics have been reshaping the business landscape, supercharging performance, and enabling the emergence of new business innovations and new forms of competition. At the same time, the technology itself continues to evolve, bringing new waves of advances in robotics, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI), and especially machine learning. Together they amount to a step change in technical capabilities that could have profound implications for business, for the economy, and more broadly, for society.

3. Confused by data visualization? Here's how to cope in a world of ma...
The late data visionary Hans Rosling mesmerised the world with his work, contributing to a more informed society. Rosling used global health data to paint a stunning picture of how our world is a better place now than it was in the past, bringing hope through data. Now more than ever, data are collected from every aspect of our lives. Understanding and parsing information have become highly valuable skills. But we often overlook the importance of knowing how to communicate data to peers and to the public in an effective, meaningful way.

4. How Digital Technology Is Changing Farming in Africa
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world population will reach 9.1 billion by 2050, and to feed that number of people, global food production will need to grow by 70%. For Africa, which is projected to be home to about 2 billion people by then, farm productivity must accelerate at a faster rate than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger.

5. Five Ways To Demonstrate Leadership In Times of Crisis
There are going to be times in your journey as a leader when you invariably feel like every decision you take is turning out to be incorrect. Nothing seems to work the way it's supposed to. Your competency and the belief in your own abilities - the two pillars of your success - seem to have deserted you for good. Your connections and your network don't seem to be helping and your decision-making abilities are being questioned.

6. The six types of successful acquisitions
There is no magic formula to make acquisitions successful. Like any other business process, they are not inherently good or bad, just as marketing and R&D aren't. Each deal must have its own strategic logic. In our experience, acquirers in the most successful deals have specific, well-articulated value creation ideas going in. For less successful deals, the strategic rationales—such as pursuing international scale, filling portfolio gaps, or building a third leg of the portfolio—tend to be vague.

7. Lolly Daskal: The Seven Archetypes Of The Most Successful Leaders
I spoke to Lolly Daskal, author of the upcoming book The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, about the seven archetypes of the most successful leaders, what happens when leaders rely too much on their current skills, the Millennial leadership dilemma and her best career advice.

8. The 8 biggest mistakes accountants make
Successfully avoiding mistakes is a key to practice growth, particularly those mistakes that can hinder client retention and new client acquisition - universal concerns of the accounting profession. Here are eight of the biggest mistakes most accountants make in practice management and how to avoid them.

9. What Neurodiversity Is And Why Companies Should Embrace It
We've come to recognize the benefits of a diverse group of people in the workplace, but isn't it time we also embrace a diverse group of brain types? What if we've been thinking about our brains in the wrong way? What if traits like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and others weren't thought of as "disorders," but as brain makeups that are not only natural but also contain unique gifts and contributions? That's the thinking behind the concept of neurodiversity, a framework that embraces the variety of brain makeups found in the human species.

10. Think Like a Start-up, Be a Better CFO
CFOs across companies of all sizes, industries, and maturity levels continue to stretch beyond traditional finance roles. Furthermore, the changes that have taken place in the workplace over the past decade — from advances in technology to an increasingly mobile workforce to prioritizing work/life balance and company culture — have challenged CFOs as well. Where can finance chiefs look for inspiration on how to be better at their jobs in these trying times?