Finance flash: the TOP-10 articles of week 9, 2020

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. Coronavirus: Five Things to Think About Before Closing the Books
Corporations around the world are not just concerned with public health, but the very real financial volatility that could linger long after the virus’s spread comes to a halt. That leaves tax and finance professionals grappling with some important questions they need to answer before they close their books this year. The following are some of the most important considerations.

2. What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?
This week, the coronavirus (or Covid-19) took a more serious turn in the U.S. with warnings that it could very well impact how, when, and where we work: “Disruption to everyday life may be severe,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, cautioned at a news conference Tuesday. “Schools could be closed, mass public gatherings suspended, and businesses forced to have employees work remotely.”

3. 3 tips for introducing RPA
Robotic process automation (RPA) could save an estimated 25,000 hours per year for an organisation with 40 full-time accounting staff, according to a 2019 Gartner study that involved more than 150 controllers, CFOs, and other senior accounting executives. But RPA needs to be carefully planned and measured, say finance professionals knowledgeable about implementing automated processes. They recommend businesses consider these three basic tips before introducing RPA

4. 4 key IT considerations in M&A
Paul Robinson, founder and CEO of Ensunet Technology Group in San Diego, makes his living helping acquirers integrate complicated IT systems. Trouble is, he said, buyers don't often ring him soon enough. "Usually we get the call after the toothpaste has been squeezed out of the tube," Robinson said. "They are in the middle of their integration, and it's not going well."

5. How Formula One Teams Handle Underperformance
It may be the driver… or is it the engine? Here’s how professional racing constructors trace performance problems to their source. In an ideal world, managerial priorities would drive business outcomes. In the real world, though, we know the reverse is very often the case. Underperformance commonly comes as a surprise to managers, triggering a race to solve the problem. First, however, they must do a root cause analysis.

6. The Business Mandate for a Rolling Forecast
Today’s competitive business environment requires finance leaders to play a strategic role in planning and forecasting. In fact, modern CFOs and their teams are now expected to keep a pulse on all aspects of the organization, including financial and operational performance, in near real-time. Central to this is a shift to rolling forecasting processes that enable organizations to continuously plan and forecast. 

7. Data privacy risks to consider when using AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to solve many routine business challenges — from quickly spotting a few questionable charges in thousands of invoices to predicting consumers' needs and wants. But there may be a flipside to these advances. Privacy concerns are cropping up as companies feed more and more consumer and vendor data into advanced, AI-fuelled algorithms to create new bits of sensitive information, unbeknownst to affected consumers and employees.

8. Move beyond digital transformation — and improve your ROI
How do you achieve value across an entire digital enterprise and make sure all investments give you that coveted, but sometimes elusive, ROI? You need to do more than transform. You need to transcend traditional approaches to growth and change.

9. The people-first approach to business building
Technology may be transforming our lives and work beyond recognition, but the hardware and software that run our world still depend on human innovation. Attracting and retaining the top tier of entrepreneurial and technical talent is a cornerstone for any start-up and many established companies. Entrepreneur First cofounder Alice Bentinck, who helps foster high-tech start-ups, shares her insights on the overarching importance of talent with McKinsey’s Philipp Hillenbrand.

10. How Tesla Sets Itself Apart
Tesla’s recent breakout market performance is proving some of its skeptics wrong. By mid-January, Tesla’s market capitalization had reached $107 billion, and it surged past the giant German automaker Volkswagen to become the world’s second most valuable auto company behind Toyota. Tesla’s valuation now exceeds that of Ford and GM combined.The Wall Street doubters may be in shock, but I’m not. Full disclosure, I own two Teslas and I own stock in the company. But it’s my experience as a three-time software company CEO that makes it increasingly clear to me that the company’s innovative business model represents an existential threat to the auto industry as a whole.How so?“Software is eating the world,” Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, wrote in a memorable 2011 essay. And software is a big part of Tesla’s advantage.