The Aryan Lunch

by OrtusClub on 20th December 2018

The Aryan Lunch

May 23, 2018

‘THE USE OF CORPORATE CARDS IN SINGAPORE’ 

In May of 2018, The Ortus Club brought together CFOs and Heads of Finance from prominent firms in Singapore to discuss, debate and share experiences on the use of corporate cards within their companies. The lunch was hosted by VISA, a global payments technology company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency.

As technology evolves and individuals become accustomed to cashless payments, the use of corporate cards continues to grow in popularity, especially within multinationals. Yet, despite its benefits, a lot of companies only issue corporate cards to top management. The discussion was guided by the following questions:

  • What percentage of employees in Singapore is issued corporate cards?
  • What kind of payments are corporate cards mostly used for?
  • How long does it take companies to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics?

WHO IS ISSUED A CORPORATE CARD

When participants of The Aryan Lunch were asked how many employees within their respective companies are issued corporate cards, the majority responded that only their senior management was.

WHAT ARE CORPORATE CARDS MAINLY USED FOR?

When asked which main use corporate cards hold, most participants indicated travel and entertainment with a minority, using it for small marketing and administrative transactions.

ISSUING CORPORATE CARDS TO THE WORKFORCE

The Challenges

What is it about corporate credit cards that make them a part of risk management? Does the liability of unethical spending rest on the employee or the company? During the discussion, it was evident that despite how many people were issued corporate credit cards in their organization, most of them saw that it provided several benefits to their processes, though were ready to admit that it came with challenges as well. One particular participant was very adamant on their dislike for the practice of supplying corporate credit cards and the employees’ use of it. One of the challenges expressed was the large risk factor it came with. The risk of unethical spending and having to chase employees for payment is a real fear faced by several employers.

Another challenge is having to deal with the personal complaints of each employee about their corporate cards and the extent of the benefits they receive from it (i.e. points, credit limit…)

 “The more employees are issued a corporate card, the more responsibility has to be taken by CFOs to police people’s spending.”

The participant explained that despite the liability of the card resting on the employee when it comes to unethical spending, it still remains that largely, at the end of the day, it also rests on the shoulders of the employer.

The Benefits

Despite the challenges companies face when dealing with payment automation and the issuance of corporate credit cards, it does not take away from the fact that there are indeed significant benefits that come about when this practice is properly implemented.

“The advantages of using corporate cards outweigh the disadvantages as it quickens reimbursements and payment processes.”

One of the benefits talked about during the lunch was the data analytics that came with the use of corporate credit cards. One of the participants explained that with the use of these cards, the host keeps stock of every transaction, collecting usable data for the benefit of the employer. Through this data, decision makers can take note of trends in terms of spending for better cash visibility.

Another benefit offered by corporate cards is the credibility it gives employees who need it when traveling. When posed with the question of why a corporate card rather than a personal card, a participant expressed that throughout the organization, you have to be aware that not all employees are credible enough to purchase a business class ticket from Singapore to America, as an example. Providing them with such an alternative gives everyone the convenience of easy payment.

CONSOLIDATING CASH FLOW ANALYTICS

How long does it take your company to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics regionally?

As the discussion progressed, participants touched upon the topic of how long it takes firms to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics on a regional scale with 80% of participants confirming access to statistics being within 3 days.

This showed improvement compared to the results reflected on a study conducted by VISA in 2016, where only 34% said they received it within that same time period.

How long does it take to access received funds?

Another topic tackled during the discussion was the amount of time it takes decision makers to access received funds. From the survey presented to the participants, majority of them expressed that they are able to access it within 1-3 days, claiming that as time progresses, their environment allows for quicker and more efficient processing.

If you are an IT leader and interested in being part of the upcoming session, please do get in touch with the group admin, Jessica Circi at jc@ortusclub.com

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The Freya Dinner

by OrtusClub on 27th July 2018

The Freya Dinner

June 27, 2018

‘Commercial Cards: Exploring The Future of Corporate Spending’ 

In June of 2018, The Ortus Club brought together CEOs and CFOs from prominent firms in Kuala Lumpur to discuss, debate and share experiences on the use of corporate cards within their companies. The lunch was hosted by VISA, a global payments technology company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency.

Providing commercial cards to all employees can simplify the management of corporate spending. As technology evolves and individuals become accustomed to cashless payments, the use of corporate cards continues to grow in popularity, especially within multinationals. Yet, despite its benefits, a lot of companies only issue corporate cards to top management. We will be discussing:

  • What percentage of employees are given corporate cards in Malaysian companies?
  • What kind of payments are corporate cards most used for?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of issuing corporate cards across the entire workforce?

WHO IS ISSUED A CORPORATE CARD

When participants of The Freya Dinner were asked how many employees within their respective companies are issued corporate cards, the majority responded that only their senior management was.

This decision seemed to revolve around three factors: role in the company, necessity and approval from senior management. Most participants said that the decision of whether or not to issue a corporate card is most frequently based on the needs of the employee (i.e. if they travel a lot or make frequent corporate transactions). However, this is a subjective decision that a senior executive would make.

THE USE OF CORPORATE CARDS

The biggest use of corporate cards resulted to be travel (and a little entertainment). When asked about whether their travels were mainly international or domestic, the majority of the guests who attended said that they travelled mostly internationally.

When asked whether, during travel, attendees preferred to use their personal cards rather than their corporate cards, 77.8% chose the corporate card.

ISSUING CORPORATE CARDS TO THE WORKFORCE

The Challenges

Despite the promise that comes with the efficiency of issuing corporate cards, employers still express that they do have some concerns when it comes to the issuance of cards to their employees. One of the main challenges discussed during the dinner was the accountability and liability of the card. One of the participants shared that though they have sound policies regarding the use of their cards, it is inevitable that they would suffer from card misuse without the opportunity to properly seek out repayment.

An example of this was brought up by one of the participants who shared a hypothetical scenario of an employee deciding to abuse a corporate card as a consequence of soon terminating his/her employment. Malaysian regulations state that companies can not put liability on said employee and this poses a threat when issuing cards.

The Benefits

Participants agreed that the benefits of having the workforce using corporate cards outweigh the concerns as, doing so, CFOs are given a detailed and consolidated report of all the expenses used by her team which helps structure monthly or annual reports. It also means that senior executive do not have to share their cards for their team expenditures.

It was also mentioned that corporate cards did away with the hassle of manual reimbursement and the paperwork that came with it.

Corporate cards provide the user with the simplicity of making business-needed transactions as well as the accounts management that helps in the tracking of revenues in the organization.

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Ortus CIO June Session

by OrtusClub on 11th June 2018

Ortus CIO June Session

Session 6: June 6th, 2018

‘CLOSING THE IT TALENT GAP IN THE PHILIPPINES’ with the ORTUS CIO GROUP

The Ortus CIO Club held its sixth session the past 8th of June, discussing on “Closing the IT Talent Gap in The Philippines”. During this breakfast discussion, CIOs from prominent firms in Manila sat down to speak of the present talent gap amongst young IT professionals and the concerns that it brings up in the IT sector of the country.

The Philippines is undergoing a shift in its business environment, transitioning itself into paperless processing, electronic platforms and embracing the growth of its Information Technology sector. With these new developments, companies find themselves suddenly needing an influx of the right people to manage these adjustments and run it to the best of their abilities. One concern, however, is that despite this growth in technology, there is a noticeable gap in today’s talent pool, leaving IT leaders floundering for solutions.

FOSTERING IT TALENT

One of the bigger challenges discussed during the session was the foundation on which the talent pool of today is built upon. Criticism towards educational institutions was exchanged, stating that although many students are leaning towards the IT field, the curriculum offered to them does not foster the skill set needed by companies at present. Skills such as critical thinking, listening, and comprehension should be a focus even at a young age, they shared, and are traits that are hard to foster if without a strong base. Another skill that is severely lacking in the Filipino youth is the skill of interpersonal communication. Even if they were equipped with the skills needed to survive in an IT environment, thriving in businesses require being able to communicate ideas both efficiently and effectively. This skills gap leaves many unfit for the prospective job roles on demand after they graduate.

Because of this problem, the participants that attended the June session of the CIO group shared how their organizations attempted to solve this particular skill gap. They spoke of 3 targets, the students, the instructors and the governing agencies.

 

THE STUDENTS

Developing the future IT sector at an early age is imperative to the success of the industry as well as the success of any Filipino professional hoping to contribute to the sector. Because of this, organizations find themselves targeting students as early as high-school to help build that interest and discipline needed for their future. Initiating IT competitions, participating in school fairs and giving talks on the IT industry are just some of the ways these leaders find themselves encouraging and molding the youth.

THE INSTRUCTORS

… If you don’t target the instructors as well, the students will be limited by what the instructor is teaching.

The participants shared that one factor that is constantly being overlooked is the competency of the instructors. According to one attendee, professors from state schools are not required experience in the industry in order to teach, leading to professors coming in to teach fresh after graduation, granting them the inability to communicate the needed skill sets demanded by the present IT sector to their students.

THE GOVERNING AGENCIES

One of the factors barring the improvement of the talent pool is the policies that are being instituted by the public office. One of the attendees expressed that the Commission of Higher Education is in charge to the curriculum offered to state schools, a curriculum that is proven to be incredibly outdated and not effective for the preparation of its students. Not only that, but they are thinking of removing the curriculum of Computer Sciences altogether because of the lack of enrollees on record. With all these happening, companies have taken it upon themselves to help in the contribution of the curriculum in order to keep it more up to date and to the standards they wish to see in their own organizations.

Ultimately, the attendees all agreed that the biggest investment that needs to be made is the nurturing of the Filipino youth through their education, not only in the hard skills needed for the survival of the ever-growing IT sector, but also the soft skills needed to flourish and help in its development. Though local talent may be raw and in need of polishing, and though it does take more time and money in comparison to taking in ready-to-use foreign talent, organizations still hold on to the hope that with their help and belief, they can help make the Filipino talent pool a world-class group of innovative individuals eager to contribute and learn.

If you are an IT leader and interested in being part of the upcoming session, please do get in touch with the group admin, Jessica Circi at jc@ortusclub.com

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The Veda Dinner

by OrtusClub on 7th June 2018

The Veda Dinner

May 24, 2018

Automation and AI: hype or hope for BPO firms?

Over 21 BPO leaders from prominent firms in Manila gathered for The Veda Dinner to discuss the threats and opportunities of AI and machine-learning to Indian and Filipino BPOs. The dinner was supported by KMC Savills, a leading global real estate service provider in the Philippines.

India and The Philippines have been the most sought-after outsourcing destinations for years, owing to its cost-effectiveness, skilled workforce, and grasp over the English language. But with the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, the implications on human resources has become a hot topic amongst BPO firms.

India, which is still the leading country for BPO, is set to lose 640,000 low-skilled jobs to automation by 2021 while the Philippines, which hosts the most call centers in the world, is predicted to lose about 45% of its 1.2 million employees.

AI and machine-learning: hype or hope?

AI keeps promising increased efficiency and cost cutting benefits but can it really change the game for BPO firms today or is it just another buzzword? When participants of The Veda Dinner were asked whether they saw AI and machine-learning as a “hype” or a “hope”, 87% of them pointed at “hope”. In fact, most BPO leaders have incorporated some sort of automation in their operations and agree that they can clearly envision technology continuing to affect how things are currently run. Other attendees, however, felt that AI and machine-learning are still very much hyped up technologies and that more development is needed before they can fully be relied on.

Replacing humans with machines

Companies all over the world have been automating low to medium complexity processes such as data analytics, rule-based decision making and repetitive customer support. Yet, the demand for human customer support, especially in the Philippines, continues to rise. This seemed to be a different prediction compared to that participants had for India. One of the participants shared:

“Jobs in India will be affected by machines more than those in the Philippines. Indian BPOs tend to focus on technical support which is easier to automate. Filipino voice support, on the other hand, is sought after for the service-prone and high tempered attitude which is harder to emulate with robots.”

Overall, the discussion concluded with the general feeling summarised by one of the participants who said:

“Machines promise to do jobs better and for less money. Yes, some people will lose their job, but, let’s face it, that’s a great opportunity for business leaders.”

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The Aryan Lunch

by OrtusClub on 5th June 2018

The Aryan Lunch

May 23, 2018

‘THE USE OF CORPORATE CARDS IN SINGAPORE’ 

In May of 2018, The Ortus Club brought together CFOs and Heads of Finance from prominent firms in Singapore to discuss, debate and share experiences on the use of corporate cards within their companies. The lunch was hosted by VISA, a global payments technology company working to enable consumers, businesses, banks and governments to use digital currency.

As technology evolves and individuals become accustomed to cashless payments, the use of corporate cards continues to grow in popularity, especially within multinationals. Yet, despite its benefits, a lot of companies only issue corporate cards to top management. The discussion was guided by the following questions:

  • What percentage of employees in Singapore is issued corporate cards?
  • What kind of payments are corporate cards mostly used for?
  • How long does it take companies to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics?

WHO IS ISSUED A CORPORATE CARD

When participants of The Aryan Lunch were asked how many employees within their respective companies are issued corporate cards, the majority responded that only their senior management was.

WHAT ARE CORPORATE CARDS MAINLY USED FOR?

When asked which main use corporate cards hold, most participants indicated travel and entertainment with a minority, using it for small marketing and administrative transactions.

ISSUING CORPORATE CARDS TO THE WORKFORCE

The Challenges

What is it about corporate credit cards that make them a part of risk management? Does the liability of unethical spending rest on the employee or the company? During the discussion, it was evident that despite how many people were issued corporate credit cards in their organization, most of them saw that it provided several benefits to their processes, though were ready to admit that it came with challenges as well. One particular participant was very adamant on their dislike for the practice of supplying corporate credit cards and the employees’ use of it. One of the challenges expressed was the large risk factor it came with. The risk of unethical spending and having to chase employees for payment is a real fear faced by several employers.

Another challenge is having to deal with the personal complaints of each employee about their corporate cards and the extent of the benefits they receive from it (i.e. points, credit limit…)

 “The more employees are issued a corporate card, the more responsibility has to be taken by CFOs to police people’s spending.”

The participant explained that despite the liability of the card resting on the employee when it comes to unethical spending, it still remains that largely, at the end of the day, it also rests on the shoulders of the employer.

The Benefits

Despite the challenges companies face when dealing with payment automation and the issuance of corporate credit cards, it does not take away from the fact that there are indeed significant benefits that come about when this practice is properly implemented.

“The advantages of using corporate cards outweigh the disadvantages as it quickens reimbursements and payment processes.”

One of the benefits talked about during the lunch was the data analytics that came with the use of corporate credit cards. One of the participants explained that with the use of these cards, the host keeps stock of every transaction, collecting usable data for the benefit of the employer. Through this data, decision makers can take note of trends in terms of spending for better cash visibility.

Another benefit offered by corporate cards is the credibility it gives employees who need it when traveling. When posed with the question of why a corporate card rather than a personal card, a participant expressed that throughout the organization, you have to be aware that not all employees are credible enough to purchase a business class ticket from Singapore to America, as an example. Providing them with such an alternative gives everyone the convenience of easy payment.

CONSOLIDATING CASH FLOW ANALYTICS

How long does it take your company to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics regionally?

As the discussion progressed, participants touched upon the topic of how long it takes firms to consolidate a full set of cash flow analytics on a regional scale with 80% of participants confirming access to statistics being within 3 days.

This showed improvement compared to the results reflected on a study conducted by VISA in 2016, where only 34% said they received it within that same time period.

How long does it take to access received funds?

Another topic tackled during the discussion was the amount of time it takes decision makers to access received funds. From the survey presented to the participants, majority of them expressed that they are able to access it within 1-3 days, claiming that as time progresses, their environment allows for quicker and more efficient processing.

If you are an IT leader and interested in being part of the upcoming session, please do get in touch with the group admin, Jessica Circi at jc@ortusclub.com

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Ortus CIO February Session

by OrtusClub on 15th February 2018

Ortus CIO February Session

Session 4: February 11, 2018

‘UNRAVELLING THE BLOCKCHAIN’ with the ORTUS CIO GROUP

The Ortus CIO Group held its fourth session last week to discuss the relevance and potential applications of Blockchain in IT departments. Various examples were shared on how the technology can be used and what IT leaders are brainstorming. Other points touched upon during the session were:

  • Many do not understand what blockchain is or how to use it is and those who say they do, often do not.
  • Companies should not try to adapt blockchain simply because that is the trend but it is important to understand which areas of their business may get disrupted if they don’t.
  • A lot of interest and investment is going towards blockchain, but decision makers are unsure of what is needed to make this shift happen.
  • There is a certain level of trust in the concept, but leaders are waiting for more proof.
  • More examples are wanted on how using the technology translates to money.

 

WHO KNOWS WHAT BLOCKCHAIN IS?

Participants were asked if, in their opinion, most employees in their respective companies would answer ‘yes’ if they were asked whether they understand what blockchain is?

The vast majority stated that they would not. A couple of participants shared that people are increasingly saying they know what blockchain is but that, in reality, their understanding if very superficial.

“Most participants believed that the majority of their employees does not know what blockchain is.”

Following their answers, participants were asked whether they predicted most employees would understand it by the end of 2018. The overall conclusion was that half of the company would make the connection between cryptocurrencies and blockchain, while the other half would improve their existing knowledge.

WHY NOT YET?

Some of the participants raised safety and regulation concerns. The word “blockchain” can be distracting at times because it sounds so far from what most executives should prioritise. But what is important is to become familiar with how easy something can be hacked and how important the “consensus protocol” is. A consensus algorithm ensures that the next block in a blockchain is the one and only version of the truth, and keeps powerful adversaries from derailing the system and successfully forking the chain. But is this enough?

It seemed we are still far from fully implementing the technology, the main question being on monetisation. A need exists to inspire organisations in order to use blockchain as a decentralised ledger. Education is also needed for non-technologists who can influence the organisation towards exploring the trending technology. Another big challenge in the Philippines is the lack of blockchain developers. Should companies be looking for more blockchain “evangelisers” to join their teams?

If you are an IT leader and interested in being part of the upcoming session, please do get in touch with the group admin, Jessica Circi at jc@ortusclub.com

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Ortus Round Table: The Future of China’s Innovation Hubs

by OrtusClub on 13th December 2017

Senior executives of the technology ecosystem and investment community in Shanghai gathered at the Nova Dinner, hosted by Savills, to discuss the future of Shanghai and other cities in China as innovation hubs.

Shanghai is clearly a global business hub and China’s financial capital. It’s growing base of digital media and entertainment companies, availability of educational programs and access to and capital tech infrastructure make Shanghai the front-runner in KPMG’s ranking of global innovation hubs. But when it comes to most metrics on entrepreneurship, Beijing is doing far better. Zhongguancun’s ecosystem of new ventures, tech giants, research universities and professional services firms has developed tacit knowledge and an entrepreneurial culture that is hard to replicate. What does this mean for Shanghai’s plans of becoming a global innovation hub?

Does Global Talent Matter?

With over 200,000 expats, Shanghai is positioned as a bridge between China and the rest of the world. The city’s strategic importance will grow as China strengthens its position as an economic powerhouse. But how much does an international workforce matter for innovation and entrepreneurship right now? Some guests at the Nova Dinner disagreed about the importance of global talent for entrepreneurship, pointing out that most startups’ focus is the domestic market.

While it is true that most startups in China right now focus on internal customers, the next natural step once the market is saturated will be international expansion. China is transitioning from a country that replicated technology to an exporter of ideas and patents, making Shanghai’s cosmopolitanism a valuable asset over the long-run. Exposure to foreign languages and cultures also makes locals in Shanghai able to scale up domestic ventures. A diverse environment and awareness about global trends certainly encourage creativity as well.

Forget Traditional VC Assumptions

In the American model of entrepreneurship, location is a big deal for funding. Startups from all over the country will put their staff in a plane bound to Silicon Valley or San Francisco. VCs prefer physical proximity with their portfolio companies as it facilitates supervision, while founders value the availability of advisors and collaborators. This is best exemplified by startup accelerators, which often require relocation. Under those assumptions, Beijing’s entrepreneurship ecosystem might come off as a direct threat to innovation in Shanghai, but there are reasons to believe things might be different for China in the next few decades.

To begin with, geographical proximity is generally less important now in all aspects of life. Silicon Valley developed as a tech hub in the late 20th century–before iPhones and WeChat existed. Better internal infrastructure in China makes business traveling easy and cheap. In addition, we are already seeing successful efforts to create entrepreneurship hubs all over China, suggesting it might not be a zero-sum competition between cities after all. A guest pointed out how medium-sized cities like Qingdao are successfully setting up incentives to attract startups. Chinese cities see a remarkable level of scientific collaboration, with Beijing and Shanghai having formed 382 bilateral institutional partnerships in 2016 according to Nature. Some guests claimed that VCs actually look for geographical diversification of their portfolio within China.

 

Attended by:

CEO at C&A Advisors China

Co-Founder at italki

Country Manager, China at Pivotal Software

Executive Director at CITIC Capital

Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Chase

Founder & CEO at 23Seed

Founder & CEO at Automobility

Founder & CEO at Withinlink

Founder & Managing Director at DRP Capital

General Partner at SOSV

Head of Corporate Banking at SPD-Silicon Valley Bank

Managing Director at JR Capital

Managing Director at Parkopedia

Managing Partner at China Materialia

Managing Partner at PurpleSky Capital

Partner at Chinaccelerator

Partner at TD Growth Capital

Hosted By:

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Wake up, CMO: Loyalty Programmes are Dead

by OrtusClub on 12th December 2017

customer loyalty

Committing to a single airline’s rewards programme to buy a flight every few months just isn’t worth it. Tools like Kayak and Expedia allow us to get the cheapest flight out of hundreds of airlines. Do people walk several blocks to a coffee shop every morning because of its rewards program? Probably not.

Many companies continue to expand their loyalty programmes as if it were an all-in-one solution for customer acquisition. Maybe it used to work but ask anyone if they are as loyal to brands right now as they were in the 90s and I’d be surprised if anyone said yes. There are two reasons behind this trend in customer loyalty.

Online Price Visibility    

Comparison sites have popped up in all industries in the past decade. Flights, toys, shoes, insurance, remittances—you name it. These websites are killing customer loyalty. As they were made to do so, they minimise the price of cost comparison, once a considerably burdensome task. By doing so they bring out our inner homo economicus. Our attachment to brands clashes with our desire to be profit maximising. We might wonder, am I that picky to pay an extra $200 to fly in my favorite airline? Not all sectors are affected by this. Hermès, for example, rewards loyal or prominent customers with the possibility of buying their pricey Birkin bags. But for most non-luxury goods, the online disclosure of prices make consumers prioritize cost-efficiency over personal brand preferences. 

data analytics

The Idle Customer Gold Mine

Conventional wisdom tells us to reward existing customers. Why waste time and energy on acquiring new customers when you can easily get old ones to buy more? Some tech startups, aware of the importance of access to data, are starting to challenge this paradigm. Acquiring data, even from one-time consumers creates growth opportunities. Take ride-hailing companies. There’s a fixed amount of drivers out there at any time and excess demand is not rare. Do old, loyal customers get priority? Usually not. By minimising waiting time for new customers, startups are able to retain consumers and, with them, data they can monetize, such as traffic data. This strategy will allow tech companies to exploit big data to understand consumer behavior more in the long-run. 

 

 

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Ortus Round Table in Kuala Lumpur: Reassessing Financial Leadership in Light of Global Trends

by OrtusClub on 27th November 2017

CFOs and Heads of Finance from prominent firms in Kuala Lumpur gathered at the Ellis Dinner to discuss and share experiences on the changing role of financial leadership. The dinner was hosted by Blackline, which as a provider of cloud software that automates and controls the entire financial close process understands the need to discuss how the role of the CFO and finance function is evolving.

Automation has been undoubtedly a driver of growth over the past centuries, if not millennia. Inventions like Henry Ford’s assembly line automated some tasks but created a significant demand for additional jobs over several years—making the adjustment process manageable from the viewpoint of organisational structure. At the speed of change we are experiencing right now, however, we are not in control anymore. Many executives see the jobs they oversee being quickly automated and find themselves unable to turn this into a growth opportunity, and not just pure cost minimisation operation. As technology disrupts the finance function, CFOs need to reassess their role to make sure their companies can, besides surviving the ongoing wage of digitalisation, use it to gain competitive advantage.

“It’s not about automating work; it’s about reimagining it.”

Good management is not enough to survive anymore. As an attendee pointed out, the CEO of Nokia reportedly said in a press conference that, “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost.” Nokia’s case reveals the importance of rethinking the responsibilities of the CFO in the current technological landscape. As traditional audit and accounting tasks are automated, CFOs should reconsider their priorities. While mastering accounting tasks is still indispensable, automation should be used as a way to spend less time on clerical duties and instead focus on growth and innovation.

This matter is particularly important for the finance function as it often sets the limits to how far a company can experiment and take risks. Guests commented on how we must find a new way to measure value in a business and beyond the traditional financial metrics. Finance labour should be reallocated from straightforward tasks to matters such as measuring intangibles such intellectual property or R&D and, especially, communicating their value to investors and other stakeholders. The finance function can help materialise innovative ideas generated in any division in an organisation into a tangible result. Executives who see automation as a way of merely replacing jobs are missing the point of the digitalisation revolution.

cfo

“We need to celebrate transformation.”

Kodak’s inability to embrace new inventions led to its staggering downfall, as a guest at the dinner pointed out. Research on the digital photography technology and adoption curves allowed Kodak to estimate that they had roughly ten years to prepare for the transition–but they still failed. By helping cultivate an innovative corporate culture, CFOs can use their power within an organisation to prevent things like this happening. They must encourage risk-taking and even celebrate failure. CFOs can achieve this by taking on the role of “value communication.” Fear of repercussion for financially unsuccessful inventions sniffles innovation and makes companies prone to a Kodak-style fall.

Automation has freed, rather than replaced, a lot of labour in the finance function. This positions the CFO as an agent for change in an organisation that can promote a culture of continuous innovation. 

 

Attended by:

CEO & Country Head Malaysia & Brunei at BNP Paribas Asset Management

CFO at Brahim’s Group

CFO at Prudential Assurance Malaysia

CFO at Celcom Axiata

CFO at Jaya Grocer

CFO at Microsoft

CFO at Axiata

CFO Malaysia and Brunei at Zuellig Pharma

Director at Axiata

Executive Director of Tax at BDO Malaysia

Finance Director at G4S Malaysia

Head of Finance, Accounting and Controls at Standard Chartered Bank

Head of Corporate Finance at Sapura Energy

Head of Finance & Corporate Audit at Maxis

Head of Regional Digital Financial Services at Axiata Digital Services

Managing Director at Accenture

Senior Finance Manager at Westports Malaysia

Senior Managing Director and Head of Corporate Finance at CIMB

Hosted by:

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Ortus Round Table: Prevention Approach to Ransomware

by OrtusClub on 27th November 2017

CTOs and Heads of IT from prominent firms in Kuala Lumpur gathered at the Seris Lunch to discuss and share experiences on the changing landscape of cybersecurity. The event was hosted by Palo Alto Networks, which as a network and enterprise security company understands the need for having an open discussion about the growing threat of cyber attacks.

With the ransomware market soaring 2,500% in 2017 as of early October, cybersecurity is not an issue that C-level executives can merely delegate to technicians. The overall cybercrime market is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019, making this more profitable for mafias, for example than their traditional emphasis on crimes such as drug and arms trafficking. Over the Seris Lunch discussion, attendees discussed how the lack of awareness and regulation make companies vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Keeping up with Cybersecurity Threats

While we’ve seen technical expertise on cybersecurity grow over the past decade, we now face more threats than ever. Can we keep up with the forces driving this trend? To understand this issue we need to look at the financial and personal incentives that drive hackers.

Financially, the rewards are enormous and accessible. If the $2 trillion cybercrime market were a couch, hackers would make millions from the easily reachable pennies falling behind it. Traditionally, hackers look for targets such as individuals or small to medium-sized companies, given the expected lack of retaliation. The lack of regulation on the matter makes it hard for them to report incidents and for the government to respond. Left to their own devices, most victims give in and vow not to let it happen again. The victims often have an incentive to stay quiet, as Uber reportedly did last year. Companies are remaining silent about the ransomware market, seeking to maintain customers’ trust and loyalty. This perpetuates the lack of awareness on the matter and makes it hard for the government to fight it.

Companies should expect supply and demand to drive an increase in the number of hackers in the foreseeable future. The significant financial opportunities for hackers will increasingly attract younger coders. Seen as an anti-establishment activity, hacking has developed a culture of its own that lures people around the globe. As we continue to increase the provision of computer science education—an essential task for economic growth—we face the risk of losing coders to the black market of the Internet. Governments need to set a firm limit as to what is allowed and prosecute hackers who break the law. Companies, in turn, must find a way to attract talent. Hackers could do a lot of good if employed in legal projects in both the private and public sector.

Should cybersecurity even be a corporate discussion?

Sometimes talking about ransomware and cyber threats with board directors means convincing them of their existence. Even when technical solutions exist, lack of awareness among stakeholders at a company makes them inaccessible. We must, therefore, make them see the real benefits of prevention. This is as much of a challenge for Heads of IT as it is for CFOs. Quantifying the risks of cyberattacks and benefits of a prevention approach is a difficult task. But there’s still a lot of room for us to create consciousness across the organisation such that stakeholders know about the gravity of the situation and the existence readily available solutions.

Consciousness and awareness by themselves are not enough. Guests emphasised the previously mentioned point about public information disclosure. Society as a whole needs to make an effort to allow people and organisations to be more open about the issue of cyber threats. We should encourage financial institutions, for example, to make warnings and disclosures about their cybersecurity situation and the particular menaces clients face. Right now, they only do so to a limited extent because of the fear of losing value.

While external factors like government regulation and law enforcement in cybersecurity are beyond the control of companies, there are many measures they can undertake internally to promote a prevention approach to this issue. Working on internal awareness and encouraging full disclosure on the topic will facilitate the adoption of existent solutions and allows governments and organisations to identify areas where we need to improve.

 

Attended by:

CIO at Erama Creative 

CIO at Gamuda

CIO at IJM Corporation

CIO for Malaysia and Global CIO Islamic Banking at Standard Chartered Bank

Co-Founder and CTO at iSentric

CTO at Fave Group

CTO at Mindvalley

CTO at MoneyLion Inc

CTO at Supahands

Head of Global IT Testing and Assurance at British American Tobacco

Head of IT – Global Business Services at British American Tobacco

Head of IT at Mass Rapid Transit Corporation 

Head of IT Operations at AVEVA

Head of IT Strategy and Development at YTL

Head, Business IT at TGV Cinemas

 

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