Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Our Top 10 Stories of the Year

Lynne Sampson
Managing Editor

In publishing, as in finance, numbers count. Like any good business team, we have metrics that we measure on a regular basis: readership, newsletter subscribers, page hits and more. All of this tells us what our readers are interested in so that we can produce more of it.

By that measure, 2017 was the year of emerging tech. Blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and other new technologies have captured the imaginations of finance professionals, as they try to understand what they are and how they might impact the finance profession as a whole.

In the tradition of year-end “Top 10” lists, here are our most-read stories of the past year.

10. How to Get Started with Machine Learning and AI in Finance

The first indication that AI/ML is something big for finance professionals was the reaction to this article. Published early in 2017, it quickly became one of our most widely-read stories and set the tone for the rest of the year.

9. How to Survive 3, 5, 10 Years from Now

Kimberly Ellison-Taylor is not only chairman of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, she’s also an inspirational speaker and thought leader. In 2017, she was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting” by Accounting Today. Not surprisingly, our Q&A with Ellison-Taylor proved to be one of our most popular reads of the year.

8. How to Show the Financial Value of IT

As a finance technology publication, we have a fair number of IT professionals among our readers—and they’re under pressure from CFOs to demonstrate the value of the technology investments they make. This article about how to do just that proved popular with both technology and finance readers.

7. Oracle Named a Leader in 2 Gartner Magic Quadrants: Strategic and Financial Corporate Performance Management

Analyst reports are always a hit, and this story proved to be no exception. It looks at two categories that, together, we refer to as EPM (enterprise performance management) cloud. Also popular with readers was our coverage of another analyst report, Oracle ERP Cloud a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant

6. How to Love Tax Reporting in the Cloud

The title alone is almost an oxymoron. Who loves tax reporting? It tends to be the bane any finance professional’s career—which is, perhaps, why the idea of learning to love it proved so enticing to our readers.

5. What is the Real Value of Artificial Intelligence in Finance?

Here, we see the interest in new technologies really ramping up: 4 of our top 5 stories for the year were about emerging tech. In this story, we build on our earlier introduction of AI/ML to discuss its practical applications, and recommend some specific cloud systems that finance professionals can begin to explore.

4. What is Robotic Process Automation?

When most people think of “robotic automation,” they envision the mechanical arms used to assemble products in manufacturing plants. But the meaning of robotics is expanding to include computers, mobile devices, networks, and the software that runs all of them. This story looks at the tasks that “bots” can automate and the potential impact on the finance function.

3. What Can You Do with Blockchain? Here Are 4 Ideas to Consider

Ah, blockchain. Perhaps one of the most talked-about—and misunderstood—innovations in finance today. One of the most common misconceptions is that blockchain and Bitcoin are the same thing. They’re not. Bitcoin is built on blockchain technology, but blockchain has other potential uses that could turn out to be much more relevant to finance professionals. This article looks at four of them.

2. How to Get Started on VAT in the Gulf States

This one was a surprise to me; I didn’t expect an article about a new value-added tax in GCC nations to be so popular. But perhaps it’s not such a mystery. Finance professionals are both forward- and outward-looking; they recognize that events globally can have an impact on business locally, and they maintain a keen interest in political and economic affairs. Our readers come from countries all around the world; moreover, they work for companies that are often looking at expanding into new geographies. So, look for more global coverage from us in 2018—possibly even translated into other languages.

1. What is Blockchain? A Primer for Finance Professionals

Our biggest hit of 2017 was borne out of my own personal frustration with every article I read about blockchain. Nobody seemed able to explain it in a way that was simple and relatable. If I had to read the words “distributed ledger” one more time, I was going to throw my laptop out the window and watch it distribute itself all over the pavement. To a Gen-Xer like me, distributing a ledger means printing out the GL and putting copies on all my colleagues’ desks. 

After weeks of google-fail, our team assembled a roster of subject-matter experts and asked them to explain blockchain to us in plain language that even a non-techie could understand. The result turned out to be my favorite story of the year—and clearly our readers agreed.

And Now for Your Year-End Bonus!

My colleagues are frequent contributors to Forbes, and we collaborate closely on topics of interest to our finance audience. As a special bonus, here are the top 5 finance-related articles we contributed to Forbes this year.

5. Three Big Benefits Oracle Sees From “Marrying” Its Finance and HR Departments – A survey with MIT Technology Review revealed that, when finance and HR teams collaborate more closely, they make better, faster and smarter business decisions. Oracle has gone down this road itself, and this story examines the benefits.

4. How CFOs Can Grapple “With the Valuation of Intangibles” – Paul Sonderegger is a leading strategist on the subject of big data and a former industry analyst. In this Q&A he discusses his concept of “data capital,” what it means, and how it’s expanding the CFO’s purview beyond financials. 

3. 10 New Reasons to Move ERP Into the Cloud – From emerging technologies like AI/ML, to more traditional considerations like governance and compliance, there are more reasons now than ever to move your ERP and EPM systems to the cloud.

2. How Your Finance Org Can Help Win the Digital Race – One of Oracle’s great strengths as a company is our world-class team of finance leaders. Loren Mahon, vice president of finance systems in Oracle’s CEO Office, talks about business KPIs and why non-financial indicators are now just as important—if not more important—than financial ones.

1. Top 5 CFO Priorities for 2017 – An annual tradition, this is always one of our most popular topics of the year. Look for the next edition in early 2018.

Happy New Year from all of us at The Modern Finance Leader. 

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