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Vision 2011 Day 1: The keynote recap, part 1 of 2
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  business_analytics vision11
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Economic uncertainty. Complex regulations. New and emerging risks. Innovation, analytics, and the pressure to use both to drive better outcomes.
Each of these issues and many, many more dominated the agenda of today’s opening keynote address at Vision 2011, the Premier Event for Financial Management at the Sheraton Dallas.
Mark Nashman, co-founder and CTO of Clarity Systems (now an IBM company) welcomed some 400 attendees from around the world in an impressive keynote that also featured IBM Business Analytics GM Rob Ashe, Mark Lelyo and Steven Quintero of Time Warner and former SEC Chariman and XBRL advocate Christopher Cox.
Nashman welcomed attendees - a full 30 percent more than last year - and began his presentation by outlining the developments within the Clarity Systems product set since being acquired by IBM in October 2010.
Clarity Acquisition a great event for Clarity customers, employees and partners: Mark Nashman
He said the acquisition was a great event for customers, employees and partners, because Clarity Systems filled a gap in the IBM solution for financial analytics - specifically the ability to help companies to automate the last mile in financial reporting. Nashman was also enthusiastic about the opportunities afforded by the common culture between IBM and Clarity Systems, in particular the same dedication to customer success. “I see it every day in the way we engage with our customers and I hope you see it when you engage with IBM and Clarity Systems personnel.”
From here, Nashman recalled the positive response from industry analysts on the news of the acquisition, with Forrester, Gartner and Ventana all making positive statements about the increased offerings within its business analytics software portfolio. “I believe the market now sees IBM as the clear leader in Financial performance Management, with the broadest and deepest set of solutions. It’s very exciting to be part of this story.”
More features, a global footprint and product longevity
Nashman then gave Clarity Systems customers a glimpse into the next chapters in that story. Among them are:
Rob Ashe: A challenge to Finance to "think more broadly"
Taking the stage from Mark Nashman was Rob Ashe. Even as General manager of a full IBM division, Ashe revealed Finance to be his “true love” and to extend a sympathetic ear to attendees called on his past experiences filing statutory reports as a CFO. “I like to think I feel your pain and understand what you’re going through.
Ashe then challenged attendees to “think more broadly” about the role of Finance and of financial analytics within their organizations. “It’s clear that the environment for Finance has never been more complicated, more sophisticated or moved more quickly,” he said. “And it’s incumbent on us to understand what’s available out there to help our companies perform.”
Clarity acquisition another step forward in the business analytics journey: Rob Ashe
Naturally, Ashe made the strong case for attendees to explore the offerings from IBM Business Analytics. In acquiring Clarity Systems, Ashe said, IBM is taking another step forward on its business analytics journey toward better business outcomes for its customers. Much like IBM has integrated and extended the presence of financial analytics within its broader IBM Business Analytics portfolio, Ashe urged attendees to use business analytics to extend their influence and presence throughout their respective organizations.
Business analytics extend insights further into your organization to drive better outcomes
Extending business insights to drive better outcomes is a journey Ashe has been on for 25 years. And to bring Clarity customers up to speed, he recounted that journey, calling attention to the major software categories that his companies’ leadership helped create: first, business intelligence helped IT drive information into the business and helped decision-makers understand their companies’ competitive advantage, their greatest opportunities for profit and where and how to cut costs.
Next came the “vital” integration of financial analytics, scenario modeling and driver-based planning to “create a wave” called Performance Management. This wave anchored BI insights to key accountabilities in Finance, Ashe said, to enable business leaders to align their business strategies and insights with their accountabilities to customers and shareholders.
The most recent stage in the journey, of course, is business analytics, in which robust predictive capabilities, real-time insights, risk management and other capabilities further extend an organization’s analytics foundation and drive insights even further into decisions about business strategy, resource allocation, operations and tactics.
From CFO to CAO
Recalling the 2010 IBM CFO study, Ashe observed that CFOs are becoming CAOs, or “Chief Analytics Officers.”: “Our companies now are so much more than hard infrastructure. The companies that are driving new business models and new kinds of competitiveness view themselves and information-based companies first. Their assets aren’t bricks and mortar. They’re the information about their customers and supply chains that help them get to market more quickly.”
Further echoing the 2010 CFO study, Ashe continued: “I really believe that CFOs and their organizations need to be the custodians of these assets. The next decade is going to be about competing on information. We play a vital role in this set of capabilities that we’re bringing together at this conference that address the need for Finance organizations to be partners with our CFOs.”
It’s also a question of credibility, Ashe observed. A CFO’s ability to partner with the CEO and help guide an organization depends in large measure on their ability to close the books effectively and accurately – a task he described as the basic “blocking and tackling” of the CFO’s job. The acquisitions of Clarity Systems and, in the area of risk management, Open Pages, helps Finance do that fundamental work.
Ashe concluded his presentation with a note on the upcoming IBM Centennial. Just as IBM has reinvented itself several times to drive increase its productivity and deliver value, CFOs and their teams must pursue a similar path of transformation to provide continued insights to their respective organizations to drive better business outcomes.