Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 22, 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. The role of expertise and judgment in a data-driven world
The Obama campaign's former data-analytics chief explains why a healthy dose of skepticism and a clear understanding of the process behind data collection leads to stronger strategies and real impact.

2. Burned by the bots: Why robotic automation is stumbling
Over the last several months, we have witnessed the increasing chatter around one of the hottest buzzwords in the digital space: robotics. Robots are a bit like macros in Excel. They execute tasks that are often repetitive. So instead of a human typing in a password and retrieving a piece of data from a program (like someone's salary from a W2 system), the bot will replicate that same task by running a software script that interfaces with those programs. This makes producing the end-of-month compensation report, for example, a lot easier.

3. This is how IFRS 15 will impact M&As
Revenue recognition has been the battleground for some of the largest and most complex M&A-related disputes. While International Financial Reporting Standard 15: Revenue from Contracts with Customers (IFRS 15), a new accounting standard for recording revenue, could have a significant impact on M&A transactions, there is no indication that revenue recognition will be less relevant to disputes in the future.

4. 4 steps to success with data democratization
In order to reap positive returns on your decision-making, you need to access data that is digestible and accurate in real time. After all, your sales people need real time data about customers before their client meetings, marketers need real time data to create targeted campaigns, and your executives need easily digestible data in order to make business decisions in real time—especially when they are on the go.

5. Five Ways That Companies With Small Budgets Can Test Out New Ideas ...
A few weeks ago, Jeff Bezos voiced a dirty little secret about disruptive innovation: it's not just about creating groundbreaking new products and services, it's about creating groundbreaking new products and services that people actually want to buy. "At Amazon, we've had a lot of inventions that we were very excited about, and customers didn't care at all," Bezos recounted during an event in Colorado. "And believe me, those inventions were not disruptive in any way. The only thing that's disruptive is customer adoption."

6. The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability
Today's executives are dealing with a complex and unprecedented brew of social, environmental, market, and technological trends. These require sophisticated, sustainability-based management. Yet executives are often reluctant to place sustainability core to their company's business strategy in the mistaken belief that the costs outweigh the benefits. On the contrary, academic research and business experience point to quite the opposite.

7. Green Reporting Takes Root
In its most recent 10-K filing, Host Hotels & Resorts included two charts showing energy and water use at its properties over the prior three years. Each chart showed steep descents in the company's consumption of those resources. The disclosure, and the circumstances leading up to it, were unusual in at least two respects.

8. Tips on giving an effective training session
Whether you are in charge of an induction session for new hires, or training colleagues on a new process or system, both you and your audience want to be assured that time invested in training will be well spent. Here's how to get your message across and ensure the learning is acted upon and embedded.

9. Five ways to improve employee engagement
Employee engagement means something different to individuals depending on where they work, the size of an organisation, the industry in which they are involved, and their role within a company. But the benefits of an engaged workforce seem universal: better performance, improved client or customer satisfaction, and increased revenue, to name a few.

10. Is digital disruption changing the DNA of the CFO?
Will tomorrow's finance function be led by people or technology? Felice Persico, EY's global vice chair, assurance, examines how technology is transforming finance and the role of the CFO.