Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 21, 2019

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. Google Spent Years on a Secret Plan to Dominate This $830 Billion Industry, and Nobody Even Noticed
The words strike terror in any entrepreneur's heart: "Hey, did you hear that Google is getting into your industry?" Google is placing a bet on potentially the biggest business yet, one that the U.N. World Tourism Organization estimates could be worth a total of $830 billion, in just one segment of the industry.

2. Apple Had An Awful Week. Then Tim Cook Brilliantly Put Life, Work and Everything In Perspective
Why, just last week, China, tariffs, the Supreme Court and Intel chip flaws all contributed to Apple feeling morose at the vicissitudes of the world. What was it Steve Jobs used to say? "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." It's surely hard to love what you do when the problems seem to fly at you from every side. You'd think, then, that Apple CEO Tim Cook might be wallowing in his sorrows.

3. Three Objectives for Moving Forward With AI
Taking ownership of AI is about more than technological competencies – it’s an overarching organisational challenge. If Big Data is the oil that fuels the digital economy, artificial intelligence (AI) is the automobile. It can transport companies from the old, largely physical asset-based model to the new, information-based world, where competitive advantage goes to those who squeeze the most value out of their data in the least amount of time.

4. To Come Up with Better Ideas, Practice Paying Attention
We live in a world where virtually every business is an “ideas” business. Executives and entrepreneurs are desperate for insights that allow them to amaze customers, reimagine products, and otherwise separate themselves from the crowd. But it’s hard to see new things if you don’t know how to pay attention, how to cut through the endless meetings, messages, and emails, how to really listen to and begin to decode what’s happening in the world that truly matters to your organization.

5. The Future of Finance Has Arrived
The pace with which finance functions are employing automation and advanced technologies is quickening. Rapidly. A new survey of senior finance executives by Grant Thornton and CFO Research revealed that, for just about every key finance discipline, the use of advanced technologies has increased dramatically in the past 12 months. The survey tracked finance function adoption of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain and distributed ledger, drones/robots, machine learning, optical character recognition, and robotic process automation (RPA).

6. What Boards Need to Know About AI
Being a board member is a hard job — ask anyone who has ever been one. Company directors have to understand the nature of the business, review documents, engage in meaningful conversation with CEOs, and give feedback while still maintaining positive relationships with management. These are all hard things to balance. But, normally, boards don’t have to get involved with individual operational projects, especially technical ones. In fact, a majority of boards have very few members who are comfortable with advanced technology, and this generally has little impact on the company.

7. A Simple LinkedIn Trick That Will Help You Land Your Next Job Quicker
LinkedIn is the place that business professionals go to search for information, assess credibility, connect with each other, discover business partners, and get recommendations about business topics. It’s also an extremely useful job-seeking tool. Use this trick and you’ll never wait for that critical introduction again.

8. What makes a great CFO
One of the most important things a finance professional needs to know is what the company's senior leadership expects from them. In this Q&A, we posed questions on this subject to Ravi Venkatesan, a well-known business leader in India and a UNICEF special representative for young people and innovation.

9. A Company That Gets Managers to Think Like Owners
Varian Medical Systems is the market share leader and an innovator in radiology cancer treatment, but its innovation doesn’t stop at research and development (R&D). Over the last 20 months, the finance and investor relations team, in part, has led the company in transforming business management systems and the corporate culture. The goal? To forge a stronger link between strategy and execution and share price performance — all by encouraging managers and employees to think and act like long-term, committed owners.

10. Raising CFO awareness of urgent climate-related risks and opportunities
Mounting evidence shows we are facing a climate emergency, for which finance leaders have a central role in steering their organisations’ responses. Avoiding major climate-related disruption to many aspects of life, including economic viability, requires us to halve net greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade and reduce them to zero within 30 years. Failure to achieve these challenging global targets is likely to result in many businesses failing through severe damage to resources such as supply chains, customer bases and workforce health.