Treasury departments today need to think digital. Rohit Talwar, CEO at Fast Future explains how they can do this.
As the digital disruption continues to impact the business landscape, staying on top of the change requires senior treasurers to improve the understanding of themselves and their teams of what emerging technologies enable in terms of functionality and new ways of thinking and doing business.
For Rohit Talwar, CEO at Fast Future – a company that specialises in studying and advising on the future of financial services – raising the function’s technological literacy and evolving genuinely digital mindsets is one of the biggest challenges facing senior treasury leaders today.
“Understanding and realising the opportunities created by new technology requires deep digital literacy,” says Talwar. “Technology advances enable radically different concepts underpinned by dramatically different ways of looking at treasury activity, hence digital culture needs to encompass both the emerging technology and the associated mindsets.”
What is a digital mindset?
For Talwar, a digital mindset revolves around seeing everything as data rather than physical objects represented by data, hence something that can be analysed and manipulated in increasingly clever and complex ways.
He looks to the automotive industry to provide an example of this in action. “Automotive industry leaders are starting to see that the biggest value in cars lies in software,” says Talwar. “The data it generates about every aspect of the car and what the passengers do while travelling – offering constantly updateable revenue streams rather than a single fixed purchase – the car has become a data generation platform.
With the rise of Tesla’s autonomous vehicles and similar digitally-minded manufacturers such as Local Motors, who crowdsources their 3D printed car designs, a car is no longer just a means of transportation—it becomes a physical embodiment of digital products and services.”
Applying this to treasury
Successful digitally-literate business leaders in treasury will need to embrace a host of disruptive technologies. Talwar cites artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing, hyperconnectivity, and process automation as just a few examples.
“The tools these technologies enable can help increase efficiency and effectiveness, and create more value for internal customers and others who treasury connects with,” he says. “As financial services firms and central banks start adopting blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the pace of change in the marketplace will only accelerate.”
Indeed, Talwar points to China, a country that has its sights firmly on creating a fully digital ecosystem. “China is exploring the technology with the intent of transforming its entire finance sector,” he says. “Other markets are also exploring blockchain as a platform for frictionless sale and distribution of equities, currencies, bonds and other assets.”
As Treasury Today has reported before, the secure and irrevocable nature of blockchain transactions coupled with the reduction in transaction fees make it an attractive proposition for executing direct peer-to-peer transactions between counterparties. Transacting without a bank is a big change, but it may be the way of the future.
AI on the other hand offers the potential for smarter analysis and automation of many routine tasks. “Positive digital treasury cultures will explore ways of enhancing the role of people in the organisation through AI rather than simply automating the work,” says Talwar. “Finding deeper, meaningful ways to connect to employees and encourage their best work, and providing worthwhile experiences for both employees and internal customers—ie building relationships will be the true hallmarks of the digitally enlightened organisation.”