Socializing the Finance Department

A guest post by David Haimes, Director Financials Applications Development

I’m fortunate that my job allows me to spend time with the Finance Departments of our customers. Increasingly, I am discussing with them how Oracle is embedding social and collaborative features in the business processes. Their responses might surprise you.

To the outside world, a Finance Department might not appear to be a particularly social environment. Finance professionals are often perceived as introverted number crunchers, which is an inaccurate and unfortunate stereotype. In reality, Finance Departments are highly collaborative and social environments.

To demonstrate, let’s look at what it takes to close a financial period. Finance professionals have to account for, consolidate, and verify every financial transaction for the month, quarter, or year. The financial reports they prepare have to be cross checked with all parts of the business and with external auditors. Then they are required to report the results to regulatory bodies, Wall Street, and internal management — in a wide variety of media and forums.

This process is very complex, especially for businesses with global operations and global service centers. The people who need to collaborate most likely do not sit next to each other in the same office. Therefore, they expect activity streams, chat, document sharing, editing and annotation, and similar features directly available from their applications. They also expect a high level of security as there is obviously a lot of sensitive information.

Oracle provides a comprehensive set of tools and strategies for social in the enterprise. Whenever I demo social finacials at conferences and in customer meetings, the finance people jump in with enthusiastic passion. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn about their social initiatives and the collaboration challenges they face.

Interestingly, the cultural change to socialize Finance Departments is coming from within the departments. Our customers use social sites in their personal lives and want the same capabilities and more at work. They see how using social features embedded within the applications and business process can drive efficiencies, transparency, and better decision making.

And that inspires and motivates me to deliver what they need.

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