Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 46, 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. Empowering employees in digital transformation
While digital transformation has become a buzzword and is often linked to new technologies, it is a process that requires CFOs and senior finance executives to take actions that show their care for employees. At a panel titled "Disruptor or Disrupted? Which One Are You?" in the recent Finance Transformation Asia conference organised by the AICPA and CIMA in Hong Kong, speakers suggested ways that help empower employees during transformation.

2. Climate Crisis: From Dreams to Hope
Recent years have seen great progress in awareness of sustainability – in finance, in the boardroom and in leadership. Business and society can’t succeed without it and we are becoming resourceful about certain aspects of sustainability. When it comes to climate change, however, there has been a temptation to lean into a romantic ideal of Mother Nature healing herself with just a bit of nudging from business. This may be viewed as an abdication of responsibility.

3. Why Your Organization Needs an Innovation Ecosystem
Ecosystems have become an important topic for business leaders. The pace of change in contemporary business environments means that the creation of value and decision making cannot be centralized. This is particularly true when it comes to innovation. Leaders need to accept that they don’t always have the winning ideas and focus on creating an ecosystem that allows winning ideas to consistently emerge.

4. Four steps to develop superhuman focus
The Hungarian American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identified the psychological state of "flow" in 1975 — describing a state of deep immersion in a single activity or task. In this state, external "noise" is naturally muted. Research by McKinsey has shown that when professionals are in "flow", they are up to five times more productive.

5. Five ways that ESG creates value
Your business, like every business, is deeply intertwined with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns. It makes sense, therefore, that a strong ESG proposition can create value—and in this article, we provide a framework for understanding the five key ways it can do so.

6. A Hippocratic Oath for Corporations
The age-old debate over whether a firm’s responsibilities extend to its customers, employees and the community or lie solely with maximising profits shows no signs of abating. Since the dawn of modern-day capitalism, there has been a kind of seesaw, this back and forth between the primacies of shareholders versus stakeholders. This pontification seems endless, the arguments old and hoary, and the world markets remain considerably underwhelmed.

7. Coolest Tech Debuts to Watch in 2020
Predicting tech trends is not as difficult as it might seem. One of the easiest predictions to make? That Apple will release a new iPhone or that a new streaming media service will pop up to challenge Netflix. It's also inevitable that we'll still be glued to our screens and that bots like Alexa will keep telling us the weather. 

8. Oracle 2020 predictions: The year that releases the spending power of the CFO
In the last 12 months, CFOs, particularly in the UK, have tightened the purse strings due to political and economic uncertainty. As we move into 2020 we expect, or at least hope, that we will have more clarity. With this comes spending – CFOs will look to spend funds they have been holding back over the previous year and will look to invest in areas that will help their company thrive and grow. This likely means investment into innovative technologies.

9. The Digital Elephant And The CFO
Digital transformation is not new, and most companies have been on a digital journey since the 1990s. The digital transformation came in many forms — Web, Web 2.0, SaaS, cloud, mobile, business intelligence, and big data for starters. Digital touches every operational aspect of a business in a similar way that the CFO role does. Eating this new digital elephant is a massive undertaking for any business.

10. CFOs must prepare for increased R&D activity
Business leaders, particularly those involved in R&D and innovation, have much work to do to prepare for an imminent increase in workload, according to a study which shows that pressure from global governments will cause R&D activity to increase in the next three years.