The bread and butter issues, and the outcomes (for example improving business cash flow, capital effectiveness and efficiency, and margins) differentiating good from poor business operations have not shifted.
The shift is in the speed and magnitude of change in the different enablers that support effective business operations, and these factors have made staying afloat dicier.
Changes in the geo-political, business and regulatory environments, exacerbated by the rapid and frequent disruptions in technological advancements, have increased the urgency for business operations to act. It has become crucial for companies to have a strategic roadmap of how they would invest and deploy appropriate technology to make sense of the business environment, identify opportunities and manage results.
It seems like only yesterday that many companies shunned being the first adopters of technology for reasons such as fear of change, and fear of failure. Back then, the punitive costs of being an early adopter (be it financial or non-financial) were also prohibitive in many cases.
Today, technology options and delivery platform choices are aplenty, and they cater to different budgets, scale of operations and complexity. New systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and automated processes can increase the processing and analytical bandwidth of corporations and provide platforms for sizing up opportunities in the marketplace.
For the treasurer, the entrepreneurial push towards successful adoption of the right technology could free up valuable manpower that can then be deployed to identify new areas of market growth for the company, and to develop strategic/tactical plans to manage treasury risks. Treasurers can consider actioning a number of initiatives to help identify and manage growth and investing opportunities. They include treasury management systems to provide the organisation with visibility and transparency over its financial resources and commitments and risks associated with them that will need managing. Electronic dealing, confirmation and settlement is a value enhancing add-on that provides the straight-through process for funding and risk management operations while standardising trading operations. Adoption of BOTs and robotic processing applications (RPAs), meanwhile, can help increase efficiency in data gathering, reporting and analytics.
Firms can also look to leverage the scale and reach of core banking relationships to enhance support for existing business operations while providing outreach to new business areas in different geographies.
As with all investments in an organisation, it is imperative for the treasurer to build a credible and achievable business plan. A plan that has clear objectives, timelines, return on investment and payback period will improve the odds for management and business buy-in, and provide the financial and non-financial resources for the work ahead.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The treasurer’s first step would be to take stock of where the organisation is and where it could be. The next steps following the assessment is where the treasurer’s business entrepreneurship comes in.