Five Trends that Will Affect Financial Teams in 2019

John Murdock serves as the CEO for Centage. Centage’s Maestro Suite enables faster, more accurate budgeting, forecasting, analytics and reporting for small to mid-market organizations. With over 20 years of experience in the high tech industry, John is the driving force behind the company’s growth and transformation to a leading cloud-based solution provider. Follow Centage on Twitter. 

The outlook of the future can be summed up in one single word: change. To be fair, the past decade has seen tremendous change for financial teams. Recently, that change has accelerated, thanks to new advances in the technology used by financial teams, as well as the arrival of a new generation of workers who are quick to adopt — and quick to adapt — to rapid innovation. 

We will continue to see these two forces change the way financial teams operate, as well as the overall role financial teams will play in the enterprise. Here are five trends I see emerging this year. 

#1. Transformation of Budgeting Planning into Year-Round Planning 

Budgeting solutions will continue their transformation into business-planning platforms that are used by a greater number of stakeholders in the organization, and not just by the financial team for creating a budget. After all, budgets aren’t just numbers in a spreadsheet, they’re the goals and aspirations an organization hopes to achieve. Today’s visionary leaders understand that success requires breaking down internal silos so that companies can act as cohesive units working towards shared goals and plans. “Budgets” are the domain of finance teams and viewed only by a handful of people, whereas “plans” ensure everyone in the corporation is on the same page. 

#2. AI is the Next Frontier for Business-Planning Platforms 

No doubt there is a lot of talk surrounding AI these days, but when it comes to corporate planning, it will have a definitive and urgently needed role. Corporate management teams need to take into account an exponentially greater number of internal and external factors, including political, economic, weather, and natural disasters. Just consider how the tragic wildfires in California upended lives and business plans across the country. AI, particularly unsupervised machine learning, can be deployed to spot critical trends, and alert the management team if a pivot is needed. 

#3. Stress Testing Budgets Will Be Commonplace 

Few management teams implemented a stress testing process to business plans before, but with the volatility of the marketplace, this will become more commonplace. Stress testing allows management teams to test the assumptions they’ve made when creating plans, and predict how changes in internal or external factors impact financial statements so they can adapt quickly. Luckily, the increased availability of data-driven tools will largely drive this trend, which is perfect timing for business managers. 

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