GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Bill Koefoed, Chief Financial Officer at OneStream Software
While commenting on the biggest challenges that today’s CFOs and finance teams are faced with and what technologies they will need more to sustain better despite them, there will be more interest and growing investment in cloud-based predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions. ‘’In summary, digital technologies for CFOs will shift from “nice-to-haves” to “must-haves” quickly,’’ feels Bill Koefoed, Chief Financial Officer at OneStream Software as he shares more thoughts in this interview with GlobalFintechSeries. Catch the complete QnA:
We’d love to hear about you and your journey, can you tell us a little about yourself Bill?
I’m currently Chief Financial Officer at OneStream Software and have worked in the technology industry for over 25 years. Before joining OneStream in November 2019, I was the CFO for online retailer, Blue Nile and prior to that I was a partner and CFO for BCG Digital Ventures, part of The Boston Consulting Group. I also spent nine years at Microsoft, including as CFO of Microsoft’s Skype Division and as the General Manager of Investor Relations. Earlier in my career I served in leadership roles at Hewlett-Packard, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Arthur Andersen. I’m a CPA and have an MBA and BS from the University of California, Berkeley. When I’m not being a CFO I enjoy spending time with my wife and two sons, skiing, playing tennis and rooting for the Cal Bears.
How have you seen the financial software industry (and today’s CFOs!) being impacted by Covid-19; what are some of the long-term effects of the pandemic on the future of financial software according to you?
We are certainly living in a challenging time for CFOs and Finance teams. A recent research survey we ran found enterprises are heavily focusing on two areas of their business in response to the pandemic – IT/Cybersecurity and Accounting/Finance. With nearly 50% of companies prioritizing those components, the financial software industry, and the finance leaders it services are taking center stage as companies navigate the challenges of the pandemic.
Due to the impact of the pandemic, CFOs have taken on a much larger role in their organizations. They are doing more strategic analysis and trying to “look around corners.” It’s now the CFO’s responsibility to identify the tech and processes that will give them the granular, fast, and actionable analysis of the entire organization needed to forecast and execute strategies that ensure they survive and thrive moving forward. Time and resources are limited, and the stakes have never been higher. As we inch closer to “normal times,” the effects of the pandemic on the CFO’s role will continue to be felt with financial leaders
How are you seeing companies change the way they rely on and use financial software during this Covid-19 pandemic to help them drive the right business decisions and evaluate the right data?
With the global economy slowly recovering, this crisis is a wake-up call for most organizations. It reminded us that having agile planning and performance management processes is essential to surviving and thriving in a more volatile global economy. Software that allows finance teams to perform scenario analysis, weekly cash flow forecasts as well as daily sales and working capital analysis will be key to navigating a roller coaster economy. This technology will prove itself especially useful in times when finance executives need to lead at speed, such as the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Could you tell us about OneStream Software’s recent survey on business financial plans in 2021 and your top findings?
Our survey, “Enterprise Financial Decision-Making,” was conducted among 212 North American finance leaders and decision-makers in partnership with Hanover Research and covered present financial challenges and attitudes as well as plans for investments, hiring, upskilling and technology adoption in 2021. Interestingly it found, 43% percent of finance leaders are optimistic about the economy and plan to increase budgets in 2021.
We found companies are prioritizing their IT/Cybersecurity and Accounting/Finance departments, which really highlights the importance of IT and finance teams at enterprises worldwide. The data showed that these departments are the most likely to have received remote work-related upskilling/training and are the most likely to be prioritized when it comes to hiring soon.
On a related note, most companies (56%) anticipate budgetary increases in their IT budgets for remote work enablement while about a quarter (24%) are expecting a decrease in their IT budgets. I was a little surprised accounting and finance was the number two investment, behind IT and cybersecurity. It’s the reverse of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. You need IT and cybersecurity first, and publishing financials is second.
Could you share a few observations on a few game-changing financial software platforms/features that came about during this Covid-19 pandemic as a response to the pandemic.
Across industries, we saw a lot of teams taking up the use of data analysis tools, cloud-based planning and reporting tools. This is nothing new, but the pandemic did accelerate the need to leverage technology that could speed up processes. According to the report, most companies regularly use predictive analytics (61%) while just under half regularly use machine learning or artificial intelligence (46% each). Looking forward, more companies plan to invest in these tools (19% and 20% respectively) than any others. It’s encouraging to see organizations beefing up their back-office operations during the disruption, so they are better prepared for the recovery.
Given the overview of what financial software looks like today in 2020 and this evolving space: how would you describe this market over the next decade?
It’s really been over 20 years since the last major surge of investment in tools for the finance team and those were all on prem. I think we’ll see the continued migration of financial applications in most organizations to the cloud, and more capabilities for cloud-based finance platforms to consume large volumes of transactional data that can be combined with financial data to support daily and weekly analysis of key trends and signals that can impact decision-making in near-real time. And we expect to see continued interest and adoption of predictive analytics and machine learning to leverage these large volumes of data and support more accurate forecasting.
Before we wrap up, would you like to share specific finance management or business tips for Marketing and Sales or Finance teams struggling through this uncertain time due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 isn’t the last disruption we are going to see in the 2020s, so we all need to be as agile as possible. So if you haven’t digitally transformed your internal systems and processes, you need to get moving. Then in terms of monitoring the recovery, I suggest CFOs pick a handful of key drivers that will most impact their business, and “laser focus” on them.
OneStream Software provides a market-leading CPM solution that unifies and simplifies financial consolidation, planning, reporting, analytics and financial data quality for sophisticated organizations. Deployed via the cloud or on-premise, OneStream’s unified platform enables organizations to modernize Finance, replace multiple legacy applications and reduce the total cost of ownership of financial systems. OneStream unleashes Finance teams to spend less time on data integration and system maintenance – and more time focusing on driving business performance.
Bill Koefoed is the Chief Financial Officer at OneStream Software