An interview with Dan Brown, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at FinancialForce
Why do businesses need to be smart?
The pandemic taught leaders the value of resilience and coping with change – it was always important, but now it is about survival.
There is no room for complacency. Businesses must be highly agile, innovate constantly and deliver exceptional customer experiences to succeed and grasp the opportunities of accelerating change. An emerging project economy means that delivering on time, every time, at superb quality, while creating amazing customer service, must be ‘business as usual’. Attracting, engaging, and retaining talented and skilled staff is now critical, as many depart traditional workplaces or demand more from employers. The future belongs to adaptive, intelligent organisations that are richly equipped with digital insights, not just for informed decisions but to enrich and empower employee roles. They must embrace smart systems and mindsets that adapt to shifting market dynamics – or fail.
How do you define a smart business?
Becoming smart is not just about having more information. In a market that is changing faster than ever, it is about how you use the intelligence it offers to think, move, and execute faster and more confidently.
Growing businesses must adapt continually to acquire, serve, and retain profitable customers. But smart businesses don’t just become more connected through digital transformation. They don’t only use data to drive decisions but grasp digital insights to allocate resources more intelligently for better, surer, swifter execution. They create informed, innovative, and entrepreneurial cultures of continual improvement and enhanced competitiveness, with every part of the business constantly driving improvement.
How can you enable the entire business to be smart?
It is about creating smart connections that don’t only span the business but extend deeply inside it, bringing the front and back office together as one.
Every internal function, business process, workflow and practice must be more intelligent and attuned to customer needs. Finance is as responsible for delivering a great service experience as are sales, customer success or support. It has a key role in helping the operational parts of the business to identify opportunities for improvement and to help them focus on the most profitable and valuable customers. Smart businesses not only embrace digitisation but use digital tools to break down barriers, remove silos, reshape expectations, and help everyone put customers at the centre of their work. They strive to create knowledge workers everywhere that can access and utilise digital information with ease to execute every task more rapidly and delight customers in the process.
What role do leaders play in building a smart business?
Becoming a smart business starts at the top. Leaders who resolve to leverage every digital advantage will help their business make smarter decisions, better allocate resources, and deliver flawlessly. Creating a system of intelligence to span the organisation will require a strategic CEO-led mission to embed intelligence into the DNA and inspire similar purpose in all functional leaders.
Leaders must conceive a future where every team not only has the digital tools for their role, but the ability to transform customer experiences and enhance profitability collectively. Finance teams don’t just need accounting platforms for faster annual accounts, but to add value, improve customer billing experiences and resolve queries faster. To reveal the real cost to serve customers and focus attention on profitable accounts.
Only businesses that deeply understand their customers will thrive. They will shed ageing and inflexible systems and embrace AI and machine learning, using predictive and prescriptive analytics to see, learn and automate. They will embed analytics and intelligence into every workstream and support every team with meaningful insights for excellent customer communication, collaboration and community working.
What are the first steps to becoming a smart business?
Building a companywide system of intelligence demands not just digital transformation but skilled people and a strategic action plan with crystal clear aims. Smart company transformation requires clear vision and purposeful steps to digitise and connect back and front offices, build bridges between functions, enable collaboration everywhere, and build faster processes powered by digital insights.
The future depends on smart solution choices and shedding legacy systems. Smart companies will select systems for their potential to achieve enterprise agility, unlock customer insights, and deliver innovative experiences across the enterprise.
For example, transitioning to cloud-based CRM and ERP solutions gives businesses greater composability, allowing them to shape functionality to their own dynamics. Leveraging ‘as a service’ investments proactively lets them tap into innovation opportunities and release new ROI. Developers invest constantly in innovation and functional enrichment that otherwise goes unnoticed.
Finally, businesses should seek extra flexibility and enhanced insight via systems that are built to complement and enhance each other and extend benefits. FinancialForce was designed within a broad ecosystem of complementary vendors that enable users to extend the value and potential of having a single Salesforce platform across all business operations.