It’s no longer controversial to point out that historical data no longer has the same predictive power it once had, with 85% of financial leaders re-forecasting in Q4 2022, and even data-driven companies like Amazon laying off and changing their 2023 hiring plans.
Uncertainty is the new norm and with a much higher cost of capital, finance leaders have been asked to dramatically down shift strategies from growth at all costs to long term positive unit economics. If it feels more like watching a car pile up on an interstate than a successful hairpin turn, that’s because it is.
But underneath all that wreckage is an interesting story; while we’ve seen a ton of innovation for the last 10+ years in business tech with IoT, AI, SaaS everything, Big Data Processing, Augmented Reality (let’s call these “Tesla’s”), the modern finance tech stack still drives like a Ford Pinto.
For the younger generations (myself included as I only knew about this from my grandfather) the Pinto had arguably the most notorious suspension ever built. The rear suspension was prone to failure during turns which could cause the rear wheels to lose traction and the car to spin out of control.
What we saw last year, and will continue to see this year, are some amazing business leaders, systems folks and data technologists doing their best to help steer their respective vehicles with technology that hasn’t been innovative in almost 50 years!
Before you call me out, no, finance tech isn’t that far behind, but almost. Excel was launched in 1985, just a handful of years after the Pinto was in production, and Excel is still the go-to tool for finance and accounting professionals.
With macroeconomic conditions in 2023 and beyond remaining unpredictable, from venture capital all the way to the street, we’ll continue to see the gyration from growth at all costs to long term positive gross margins, and CFO’s will be pushing their teams for better real-time decision making capability and a single source of truth that ties to their financials.
Long gone are the days of a 5-10+ day close based on the month-prior data to run your business effectively. Real-time data that looks not only into revenue but more importantly gross profit margins is where CFO’s will turn their attention to in 2023 & beyond.
If you’re a finance leader, can you, in real time, view the unit economics, or at least Gross Profit, by any location/product/program/etc segment you want? Can you toggle between the operational view of the business and the financial view —that ties to the penny on your ledger?
If you answered no to either one of the questions you may need to re-think your finance tech stack. And if you’re building your business systems and financial systems roadmap for 2023, those questions are coming, so best start preparing now how to solve them!
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