Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 41, 2019

Want to stay up to date with the latest developments in finance, but short on time? Don't worry. CFO South Africa weekly collects 10 of the most important articles from international media for your convenience

1. Digital Transformation Should Start With Customers
The evidence is piling up that organization-wide digital transformation is challenging for many organizations. Companies are beginning to report high failure rates for digital transformation, similar to failure rates for large-scale transformation in general. There are too many legacy systems, too much technical debt, and too many functional and business unit data silos to overcome.

2. Excel unveils two new functions
Ask any accountant and they will tell you two “truths”:
1. They are a better-than-average driver, and everyone else is an idiot on the roads.
2. They are a better-than-average Excel user because they know how to use VLOOKUP.
It should be noted here that I hate VLOOKUP with a passion, and if anything can hurry its demise, well, I shall welcome it with open arms. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the future of looking up for the masses — XLOOKUP? Hopefully, it will make an “ex” of VLOOKUP!

3. Cinema chain Vue’s CFO on art of deal-making
The entertainment sector may come under pressure if the economy is hit by Brexit, but Vue CFO Alison Cornwell is confident of the prospects for the cinema industry. As finance chief of the vast multiplex chain based in 10 countries, the largest privately owned cinema chain in Europe, she says that the feelgood factor of the cinema can provide a fillip for customers experiencing hard times.

4. Why your next transformation should be ‘all in’
Increase the odds of a successful business transformation by going “all in”—combining five big moves to improve your company’s performance and portfolio.

5. 5 Types of Employees Could Be Wreaking Havoc on Your Business. Here's How to Handle the Drama
We know it's a buyer's market when it comes to filling job openings. With unemployment at a nearly 50-year low, we leaders have to up our game to attract candidates. We know that retaining high performers is hardest of all. So why do we keep our heads in the sand when it comes to teammates who actively hurt retention?

6. Amazon Shares 6 Ways it Creates a Culture of Innovation And How You Can Too
News of Amazon's innovations and innovative industry moves are becoming more and more common, as is their recognition for being an innovation friendly workplace. Fast Company named Amazon one of the best 50 workplaces for innovators last August, for example. And how did Amazon gain this reputation?

7. Seven Ways to Overcome the Fear of Making a Career Change
“I was afraid I would fail,” explained Sean Lafleur, a former Google executive who went on to found a consulting and coaching firm, during a presentation at a recent career conference organised by the INSEAD Alumni Association France. The two other panel members, Sandrine Limal, a consultant turned architect, and Marina Niforos, an economist now enjoying a multi-pronged career as an advisor, non-executive director and blockchain expert, echoed Lafleur’s sentiments with similarly strong terms: “stepping out into the cold”, “being afraid to jump”, “fear of being alone”.

8. Developing a Toolkit for Strategic Foresight
A fundamental challenge facing business is to formulate robust strategy that adapts to threats or opportunities from innovation. Strategy requires the foresight to identify and respond to ripples on the horizon. Historically, it was sufficient to scan an industry landscape, monitor the behaviour of rivals and track metrics such as market share. The resources and capabilities needed to succeed were well understood, enabling firms to react quickly when needed. Unfortunately, this model of strategic planning is no longer adequate.

9. Evolving Finance to Support Innovation
CFOs and finance teams play an increasing role in enterprise innovation, but the truth is that not all are set to take on the job. Why is innovation such a critical area for finance folks to be thinking about?  Most companies view innovation as essential to survival. But without the right leadership and direction from finance, enterprise innovation plans inevitably fall flat or divert precious resources away from worthy projects. Supporting innovation is one of the new challenges for finance, but one that is important for CFOs and their finance teams to get right. 

10. You’ve Landed a New CFO Job…. Now What?
Why should CFOs be thinking about this now? Many CFO posts at all kinds of companies will be opening up in the next few years. The reason is generational mathematics. A 2016 study by Spencer Stuart found that the average retirement age for a Fortune 500 CFO was a shade over 58. An informal study of the most recent Fortune list by CFO columnist John Touey pegged the current average age of those companies’ CFOs at about 56 (give or take a few months). The population of baby boomer CFOs is rapidly shrinking. And though many baby boomer CFOs will stay in the workforce, few will do so at the CFO level past retirement age.