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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

Why Now is the Time to Leap Off the Trapeze Board

Di Seghposs
Senior Director, Product Marketing

Photograph © Di Seghposs. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.

For the past 12 years, my family and I have vacationed together at a resort in Florida. Like many all-inclusive getaways, it offers a multitude of activities for guests, like golf, swimming, and snorkeling. What makes this particular resort stand out is that it also includes a trapeze rig—not exactly your typical vacation pastime.

The first time I passed by the rig, I was shocked by the height of the tower. I thought the people climbing up that pole must be crazy. It looked too scary, too risky, with too many opportunities for something to go disastrously wrong.

Of course, these are all the same risks we think about when making a business change. As someone who has managed a lot of projects in her day, I can tell you that the fear of plummeting to the ground applies to work as well as life—even when there’s a safety net there to catch you.

But as I stood there looking up, watching people fly through the air, I started to think, “I need to try that.” It looked like too much fun to miss out on. With an experienced staff to shepherd me through the process, the benefits would certainly outweigh the risks in the end.

FUD vs. FOMO

In the business world, naysayers love to spread “fear, uncertainty and doubt” (FUD) about any major change. People fear any leap that might go badly for them. It’s natural to want to protect your career, your reputation, and your future job prospects.

But the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) can be an even stronger motivator. If acting on change comes with risk, then the failure to act often comes with even bigger risks. We hear every day from customers who are eager to trade in their aging, on-premises finance systems for a modern cloud to leverage digital technologies. The motivators for this change are multitude (cost savings, improved ROI, technology obsolescence, rapid growth, a merger or acquisition) but underlying all of these triggers is the risk of falling behind—far behind—the competition.  

New research from the Association for International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) and Oracle indicates that this fear is justified:

  • Less than half of finance executives surveyed (42%) say that their organization identifies new digital opportunities and risks more quickly than their competitors do     
  • Only around a third (35%) say they look to disrupt their sector rather than wait to be disrupted
  • Only 33% are playing an influential role in mapping scenarios for a more disrupted and volatile future

According to McKinsey, the top 10% of global firms now account for 80% of the world’s economic profit. In the United States alone, Amazon accounts for 45% of online retail sales, while Disney and Comcast control 40% of all programming spend. The Association writes:

“These digital ‘superstars’ are capturing the lion’s share of market demand, capital investment, and skilled talent, thanks to higher levels of digitization; more investment in talent, innovation and intellectual assets; and a relentless focus on delivering a superior customer experience. Companies that have not embraced this digital, customer-first way of working are struggling to stay relevant in their industries and with their customers.”
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Fear is a powerful motivator. Often, it motivates us to avoid risk and do nothing. But let’s face it: in today’s business environment, “doing nothing” can equal a slow slide into irrelevance.

It's Time to Take the Leap

Making the leap to digital finance won’t automatically make your venture more profitable, innovative or competitive—but it can significantly improve your chances. A digital-first, cloud-first mindset helps unleash your finance teams to be more agile, responsive and predictive. It helps them dig out from under all the manual, mundane and repetitive tasks that eat up most of their time and creative energy. They can finally turn their talents towards analyzing information, running scenarios, and helping the business develop new and innovative revenue streams.

Our research with the Association bears this out. Organizations that have invested in digital finance are 59% more likely to have had positive revenue growth over the past 12 months. 70% of them have exploited digital innovations to create new business model opportunities and value propositions, vs. only 27% of the laggards.

The fear of missing out is justified.

One Small Step

When I finally made up my mind to scale that trapeze rig, I found that I had plenty of encouragement and support. A trainer stood at the bottom to spot me as I climbed the ladder. Another waited on the platform above to secure me to the safety lines, show me how to hold onto the bar, and advise me on how to swing and perform the trick. A third waited on the other side, ready to catch me.

Suddenly the trainer yelled, “Hep!” giving me the signal to jump. I took that leap off the platform, and then I was swinging high above the ground, my sweaty, heavily-chalked palms clinging tightly to the bar. After a few circuits back and forth, the trainer yelled, “Hep!” again giving me the signal to let go of the bar. When I let go, I stretched out my hands, trusting that the experienced acrobat swinging in from the other side would be there to catch me.

He did, of course, and I realized that trapezing is not one giant leap. It’s a series of small steps that end in a thrilling sense of accomplishment.   

For the past 12 years, I have gone trapezing with my family at that resort. I always feel a little anxious, but the fear of missing out on all that fun is stronger than my fear of falling.

To succeed in any venture means taking a risk. Doing something new and different is always scary. But success can come with enormous rewards. You might even find it exhilarating. What’s holding you back from taking the leap?

Thinking of making the leap to digital finance? Learn how to get started at Modern Business Experience, presented by Oracle.

 
 

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