Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 20

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. A Simple Way to Test Your Company's Strategic Alignment
There is no universal or one-size-fits-all prescription for a winning business. But corporate leaders today seem to agree that strategic alignment is high on the list. Strategic alignment, for us, means that all elements of a business — including the market strategy and the way the company itself is organized — are arranged in such a way as to best support the fulfillment of its long-term purpose. While a company's purpose generally doesn't change, strategies and organizational structures do, which can make chasing "alignment" between strategy and the organization feel like chasing an elusive will-o'-the-wisp.

2. Growth Happens When You Put Yourself Outside Your Comfort Zone
By Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group | Challenges are a natural part of life and business. They can pop up at the most unexpected times, and rattle even the most headstrong of people. While there's no way to truly prepare yourself for the unexpected, you can learn to embrace it by deliberately putting yourself outside your comfort zone and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

3. Apple's revenue problem is actually a marketing problem
For the first time in more than a decade, Apple reported a year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue. Wall St analysts say it's because of weak iPhone sales, which is certainly true—Q1 saw sales of 51.2 million iPhones compared to 61 million in Q1 2015. But Apple's poor performance is only a symptom of a much larger problem: its marketing has become as stale as moldy bread.

4. Why Everyone Must Get Ready For The 4th Industrial Revolution
First came steam and water power; then electricity and assembly lines; then computerization… So what comes next? Some call it the fourth industrial revolution, or industry 4.0, but whatever you call it, it represents the combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Systems. In short, it is the idea of smart factories in which machines are augmented with web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualize the entire production chain and make decisions on its own. And it's well on its way and will change most of our jobs.

5. 5 Tips for Reading People More Accurately
When we see a snapshot of someone's behavior we often jump to the conclusion that they're acting based on their personality. In contrast, when we think about our own behavior, we often think about situational causes. For example, you know you act aloof when you're flustered or anxious. However, you might assume that when someone you've just met acts that way it's because they're a jerk. What other mistakes should we avoid when reading other people?

6. What analysts want from financial reports
The disclosures made by public companies should contain more detailed information about the value of brands and intangible assets, according to equity analysts. Forty-nine per cent of those polled by Brand Finance said that public companies in their sector do not currently provide adequate information for investors on the value of their intangible assets, and 48% said companies did not provide sufficient information on the value of their brands.

7. Why the power of data is in the analysis
Organisations have the potential to amass data from multiple sources about so many topics these days: their transactions, processes, employee efficiency, customer habits, even the impression they make on social media. But the ability to collect mounds of information shouldn't be confused with the ability to analyse and act on it. The point at which data and decision-making intersect is where accountants can play a critical role. How finance turns information into action starts with getting comfortable with a data-driven culture...

8. Metric of the Month: Sales Forecast Errors
There's an unmistakable buzz in the business community today about big data and business analytics and how the two of them can be used to help marketing people destroy the competition and score big revenue gains. So where does finance come in? Is the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) expert playing coach, quarterback, or bystander? I have strong opinions on this, but first let's look at how finance has been doing with its traditional performance management toolkit— specifically, the sales forecast.

9. Managing big projects: The lessons of experience
Infrastructure has a problem. Even for projects that are similar and that many companies have experience building—think of roads, for example—delays and cost overruns are common. Poor planning and execution, unbalanced contract terms and conditions, inadequate controls, and lack of proper risk management are rife. Most big infrastructure projects run late and over budget. Here's how to do better.

10. Finance Professionals Get Smaller Salary Increases
Corporations reined in pay increases for finance professionals last year amid "extreme caution" over global economic conditions, with executive-level employees seeing the smallest hikes, the Association for Finance Professionals said Tuesday. According to the AFP's 2015 Compensation Survey, U.S. finance professionals' base salaries rose 3.6%, a decrease from the 4.1% increase in 2014. Executive-level increases averaged 3.0%, down from 3.5% a year ago, with base pay for CFOs and finance VPs rising 3.2% and 2.1%, respectively, to $203,397 and $187,692.