The CEO of Centage, John Murdock, talks to TechFunnel.com about how FP&A teams are becoming more strategic following technology’s shift of finance functions and how companies can use AI to support finance functions. Additionally, the company announced its Intelligent Planning initiative for the Maestro Suite as a response to the need for greater financial intelligence and agility due to market changes. John tells us how the new solution suite helps companies redefine how they budget and plan.
President & Chief Executive Officer, John has more than 20 years of experience driving growth in global software and services organizations. Before joining Centage, Murdock was Vice President of SMB and Channel Sales at Kaspersky Lab, the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions. While there, he was named a Channel Chief by CRN Magazine and honored as a 2015 Top Midmarket IT Executive of the Year by the publication, which features the industry’s most influential vendor executives serving midmarket customers.
Before joining Kaspersky, Murdock held several key roles at Juniper Networks where he was Senior Director Global Channels and an Americas Commercial and Channel sales manager. Prior to Juniper, he was Sales Manager for QuickPivot, an integrated marketing solutions provider. John has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering from Northeastern University and studied Business Management & Marketing at Boston University.
DW: How is technology shifting the finance function as it relates to self-service, the cloud, and analytics?
JM: We are seeing that businesses are moving to a central system of record, which links key data across all departments. Not only does this allow departmental leaders to have easy access to targeted information that is vital for their respective teams, it also gives the executive board the kind of insights that empowers them to make fast, confident and data-backed decisions. The Cloud is providing these powerful capabilities, while reducing costs for small and medium-sized businesses.
DW: Are FP&A teams becoming more strategic as a result of these technology shifts?
JM: Absolutely. As companies embrace digital transformation to drive efficiency, reduce costs and boost performance, finance teams are being looked to as the “change agents” of this evolution. This requires FP&A teams to move beyond their traditional finance roles, which used to be considered back office functions – into a strategic front office player. As decisions need to be made quickly and with confidence in the outcomes, CFOs and their teams are able to use these technology shifts to orchestrate the success of their organization.
DW: In what ways does your company’s product Maestro Suite help companies redefine how they budget and plan?
JM: When you know what lies ahead, you can prepare for it. Our Maestro Suite offers clients the ability to make informed decisions as frequently as is best for their business. The platform delivers a competitive advantage through the ability to easily budget, forecast, analyze and share critical financial information. By automating core tasks and providing a line-of-sight into an organization’s future financial health, Maestro Suite ushers in a new era of agile decision-making, allowing business leaders to react quickly to market changes, take intelligent risks, and capitalize on new opportunities.
And because planning shouldn’t happen in silos, the platform offers functionality tailored to different contributors across the organization. Powerful analytics put actionable reports and dashboards at every stakeholder’s fingertips, promoting collaboration and enabling fast answers to important questions.
DW: How do you think companies can use artificial intelligence to support finance functions?
JM: In relation to the support of finance, we see AI helping to automate tasks that normally would require human intelligence, such as aggregating data from inside and outside the company, correlating data sets, learning from performance experience, translation into best-case and worst-case scenarios, adjusting models with new inputs and automating other complex data analysis tasks. These sorts of labor-intensive tasks are made easy with the help of AI, which frees up finance teams to become more forward-thinking and strategic in their efforts. I also see that there are many business processes that can be supported by AI technology in order to speed up the decision-making process with notifications, alerts and analytics support.
DW: What are some FP&A tools and techniques that businesses should have on their radar throughout 2019?
JM: In general, CFOs and finance teams need to make sure they are moving to cloud-based software for their FP&A processes. While this move is becoming popular, it is far from the norm. Most CFOs still use Excel to run their budgets, and this practice is becoming archaic. As much as I’m excited about the influx of technology in the space, I’d really like to see more finance teams getting on board.
As for tools, I’m obviously biased, but in all earnest, I would urge businesses to take a look at our Maestro Suite, along with our integrations to Business Intelligence and visualization tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI, Domo, Tableau, Qlik, and others.