Hype, informal noun: “extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion”
I’m quite fond of this line from Public Enemy’s 1988 hit, Don’t Believe The Hype: “Suckers, liars get me a shovel. Some writers I know are damn devils”. I actually think it applies quite nicely to the kind of info out there around digital finance.
We are bombarded with information about automation, analytics and apps every day, but a lot of that information is skewed. We asked our community where they get their digital finance transformation information from, the top three answers were accounting bodies, industry events and consultancies. But even among these sources, finding a truly independent perspective is difficult to find.
Accounting bodies are not set up to provide the practical, hands-on advice and insights needed when it comes to a fast-moving technology industry associated with the digital finance function. They offer some great thought leadership and high-level research, but nothing that you can operationalise.
Industry events are commercial ventures who tie in vendors, vendor clients and their marketing hype based on the size of the vendor marketing spend. Big budgets equal big vendor presence, and this perpetuates the big players messaging. It creates a biased ecosystem for us to operate in. What about those growth players?
Consultancies tend to have strategic ‘alliances’ with technology vendors, so asking them to advise and select technology is bound to have a level of bias, conscious or otherwise. Not to mention a lack of transparency around the commercial nature of these alliances. This is something our IFA friends have been criticised for in the past.
If you are interested in further articles on the Digital Finance Function, you can access more here.
An example of this approach is EY’s Alliance and Ecosystem Relationships which points to a handful of Tier one technology vendors out of hundreds, not to mention the Tier two technology which is arguable as good or better and cheaper than these ‘global players’.
And this ecosystem runs deep. To paraphrase a friend of Generation CFO, Rolabotic, vendors pay consultants and analysts to position them favourably. Consultants will prioritise the Vendor that offers them the largest software resale commission or the most days on client site implementation.
Analysts will be influenced by how much financial gain they can make from a vendor or delivery partner and typically appraise them after agreeing commercial terms. The delivery partner, if incumbent, is unlikely to provide the most effective solution as it will directly impact the revenue with the client.
They are commercially reliant upon one another and therefore form a biased eco-system for the majority of clients.
So how do you separate the fact from fiction? Sadly, there is no perfect answer, but being aware of this ecosystem is a start.
Avoid the marketing hype – many people still look to vendors for advice. Don’t do this; remember they want to sell you software licenses.
Find an independent perspective on your problem. Connect with a finance user community where people share experiences, or try to find agnostic advisors. Most technology companies have user groups, but check out FiMIND Forums for finance specific conversations.