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The beautiful fall weather and scenery of Southeastern Pennsylvania delivered right on cue at the 2016 SAP Financial Excellence Forum which was held October 11-12 at the SAP North American headquarters in Newtown Square, PA.  This year’s theme was “Digital. Live. Reimagined.”

Attendees were treated to everything from an abundance of changing leaves on SAP campus trees to Philly’s favorite drinks author, Marnie Old, leading an equally colorful exploration into the secrets of wine & beer pairing.

Throughout the event, stories were shared by SAP customers about dealing with digital challenges, as well as how they engage, empower, and make real-time decisions in order to stay competitive and thrive in this age of disruption.

Companies with representatives that shared their finance stories included Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HP Enterprise, BSH Hausgerate GmbH, Johnson & Johnson, and McKesson.

After the pre-conference workshops on Tuesday morning, Thack Brown GM, Global Head of Line of Business SAP delivered a keynote entitled “Live Business through Digital Finance.” He reminded attendees, as well as those tuned in from around the world, of their opportunity to take a Digital Finance Readiness Assessment. The survey quickly provides insight into how mature an organization is in terms of its ability to fully enable a digital finance function.
Attendees at the forum also:

  1. Learned how to enable a digital business strategy and maximize digital investment.

  2. Interacted with SAP Partners within the “Innovation Zone.”

  3. Networked with peers from world-class organizations.

  4. Watched inspiring keynote sessions from thought leaders and customers.

  5. Participated in interactive track sessions throughout the finance journey.

Breakout sessions included discussions on financial planning for the digital age, accelerating close to disclose processes, tips on expanding profit margins, thoughts on the digital boardroom, as well as a roundtable on the latest developments in central finance.

Forum attendees also enjoyed an eye-opening presentation around digitization’s sudden new impact on management practices from Peter Horvath, Founder of Horvath & Partners. Additionally, there was a discussion entitled, “What Matters Most to a CFO?” Lead by Steve Barrett, former CFO Whirlpool, and Ivo Bauermann, Global VP EPM & Finance.

During the event, SAP customers shared their thoughts on some of the new opportunities presented by S/4HANA. Jim Diamond, Sr. VP of Finance at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said that the company “can now run their daily sales reporting query within 15 seconds as opposed to 45 minutes.”

Sabine Urban, Corporate Accounting & Controlling at Bosch Siemens Hausgerate GmbH, stated that the organization “is now able to get information when they need it, not just because it’s month end, and then base decisions on whatever they have very quickly.”

The thought-provoking customer stories that were offered throughout theevent demonstrated that many companies are dealing with unprecedented challenges in the new digital age for finance. However, there was universal agreement around the fact that companies that have “live” visibility and can respond immediately are in the strongest position to lead digital transformation.

Finance professionals can learn more about the transformation of finance in the digital economy as well as view additional video highlights from the 2016 SAP Financial Excellence Forum here.











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