Highlights from InTheBlack Sydney 2019

ITB Sydney 2019 conference

Last week, InsideSAP attended BlackLine’ s InTheBlack Sydney 2019 conference. With a highlight on the financial close, BlackLine included an entire track dedicated to SAP integration.

InTheBlack (ITB) Sydney was held in the Star Sydney Event Centre. Much like the ITB Singapore conference, the conference opened with an excellent presentation by Blackline CEO Therese Tucker, “Trust is in the Balance, discussing the shifting roles of CEOs, CFOs and Finance operatives.

Digital transformation was a hot topic. Several keynotes and panels discussed the changing finance landscape, emphasising the need for automation to take over mundane tasks while finance personnel take on more involvement in company wide innovation. Among others, EY and Deloitte gave insights into the future of finance.

Andrew Fastow, the former Enron CEO, gave a keynote speech on Rules VS Ethics. Traditionally, compliance experts look for breaches of the rules. Typically, loopholes are identified as a workaround, leading to compliance in a culture of doing what is allowed, as opposed to what is right. Fastow delved into his own story and how mistakes can be made (and avoided) and investigating an ethical approach, rather than simply making compliant decisions.

ITB Sydney 2019 SAP Track

InTheBlack Sydney 2019 SAP Track

On Tuesday the 21st, an invitational SAP track had attendees lining up to learn about the complementary nature of BlackLine and SAP in finance.

Joy Kennedy (Senior Finance Solutions Consultant & Enterprise Architecht at SAP) explained how Cloud is facilitating change in the digital era. She went on to highlight the road to Smart Finance:

  1. Cloud solutions are one of the most misunderstood yet valuable innovations
  2. Finance will become a business value creator
  3. Core finance processes will become dynamic, continuous processes
  4. Finance is poised to become the analytics hub of the organization
  5. Finance will own true Enterprise risk management
  6. Compliance will be a strategic differentiation
  7. Finance will offer internal users a consumer – grade experience
  8. Critical financial processes will become highly automated
  9. Blockchain will reduce transaction costs and increase comliance and transparency
  10. Finance organizations will implement entire finance platforms, rather than ERP systems

Michael Gilmartin (VP, Value Architecture, BlackLine) showed us how SAP and BlackLine combine to support an end-to-end financial platform. He talked us through BlackLine’s partnership with SAP before illustrating exactly how SAP and BlackLine create a universal journal and address matching challenges.

InsideSAP spoke with Mr Gilmartin, who was kind enough to expand on his presentation:

In today’s market, Accounting and Finance organizations are recognizing that their existing processes were designed with limited technology, typically point solutions, in mind, and that they require significant manual effort. Given the opportunity to redesign their approach free of resource and technology constraints, the process would look entirely different.  Closing activities would be completed more frequently, at a greater level of granularity, and would require far fewer manual touchpoints.  Tools like spreadsheets and shared network drives might help but do not represent best practices nor provide the automation and control needed to reimagine accounting processes.  
Whether already running SAP S/4HANA, evolving the ERP landscape with SAP Central Finance, or still evaluating next steps, companies adopting BlackLine solutions alongside their SAP solutions are reaping substantial efficiency and resource benefits with a Continuous Accounting mindset. BlackLine Solutions complement SAP to provide automation, visibility and control throughout the financial close. These solutions are addressing activities like balance sheet substantiation, that were historically performed in spreadsheets outside the ERP.   
SAP recognized BlackLine’s complementary and industry-leading solutions, entering into a reseller agreement late last year by which customers can purchase BlackLine solutions directly from SAP as Solution Extensions.

For dates and locations of future ITB conferences, visit https://www.blackline.com/itb

Visit https://www.sap.com/products/account-reconciliation-automation-blackline.htmlto start your transformation.

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