Top 10 financial technology stories of the year

As 2013 draws to a close, read our list of the year's most popular financial technology stories.

Chief financial officers (CFOs) are no longer merely head "bean counters," wagging their fingers at business leaders who go over budget. The consensus in 2013 among experts and finance professionals alike was that the role of the CFO is expanding, especially when it comes to strategic duties and line-of-business support.

The top 10 financial technology stories of the year reflect this expansion of the CFO role. Not only were CFOs interested in learning about systems relegated to the finance department, such as corporate performance management (CPM) and core financial management software, but stories on the supply chain and on human resources technology also made the list.

In addition, CFOs -- many of whom are still on the fence about the cloud -- were also interested in anecdotes and honest opinions from their peers who have taken the leap. This curiosity helped case studies on NetSuite and Workday Financials capture top spots.

Here's our list, starting with number 10:

10. Microsoft Excel tips from MrExcel

It's practically a scientific fact: Finance professionals are powerless when it comes to a good Microsoft Excel tip. And this is especially true when the tip comes from a veritable Excel celebrity.

Our editors caught up with veteran Excel consultant Bill Jelen, also known as "MrExcel," at the 2013 CFO Rising East conference, and asked him for a few of his favorite pointers. Jelen didn't disappoint. In this video, MrExcel explains the power of PowerPivot and how to avoid dragging formulas down spreadsheets.

9. Four tips for faster consolidation

Closing the books faster is a perennial topic of interest to CFOs. These four tips -- compiled from expert, user and vendor advice -- can help finance departments shave valuable time from the monthly close process and reallocate it elsewhere.

8. Before buying GRC tools, build a framework and clear requirements

Managing organizational risk is a key component of the CFO role, and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) technology can help fulfill this duty. But experts warn that the market is heavily hyped, and finance professionals have to look past marketing pitches to determine which system can truly cater to their company's requirements. The user and expert advice contained in this article can help prospective buyers do just that.

7. Oracle falls below IBM and SAP in CPM systems matrix

Is Oracle losing its grip on the CPM market? Although the mega vendor is still considered by users to be the predominant leader, expert Hyoun Park said recent adoption trends show otherwise. The vendor trails IBM and SAP in user adoption of new, "modern" CPM functionality, such as strategy and disclosure management capabilities. Add the rapidly rising cloud-based CPM vendors to the picture, and the market doesn't look as calm as it has for the past decade.

6. Revenue recognition software helps tech vendors meet accounting rules

Due to the rise of service-based business models, revenue recognition was a tricky issue for technology vendors in 2013. Unfortunately, many users found that traditional enterprise resource planning systems weren't up to snuff, and instead turned to specialty revenue recognition vendors to address their needs.  But adopters of these niche systems found out that implementation requires a fair amount of elbow grease.

5. Cloud financials, enterprise social networks more attractive to CFOs

Most people wouldn't consider corporate finance to be a social profession. But isn't it? At Oracle OpenWorld 2013, IDC Group Vice President Michael Fauscette pointed out that monthly, quarterly and yearly financial closes are social processes that can be facilitated by using an enterprise social network.

4. Are HR and finance systems really better together?

The past year saw an increase in integrated human capital management (HCM) and financial technology: NetSuite announced a partnership with Oracle for HCM, FinancialForce.com acquired HR software vendor Vana Workforce, and Workday continued to push the viability of its Financials offering. This article discusses the benefits of using integrated finance and HR systems from the point of view of an expert and a chief information officer.

3. Workday Financials works for global company TripAdvisor

Workday Financials got a major functionality boost in the fall 2012 release, notably adding global capabilities. But many finance leaders still wondered: Can the system truly support global, multinational organizations? Julie Bradley, CFO of early adopter TripAdvisor, talked candidly about the challenges the company experienced while implementing Workday Financials, and offered advice for her peers.

2. NetSuite financials helps tech company leave Oracle behind

SeaChange International was tired of going through painful upgrades to its Oracle financial management system every few years, so it decided to adopt NetSuite's cloud-based offering. But while the level of support has improved since the switch, it's not all roses. According to the vice president of finance, NetSuite's revenue recognition capabilities leave something to be desired.

1. Master strategic sourcing to keep costs low, customers happy

Topping our list is a tutorial from expert Barry Wilderman on strategic sourcing. Wilderman walks readers step-by-step through the value propositions of strategic sourcing and gives tips on how to assess and choose supporting technology.

We hope you enjoyed recapping the year with us! Tell our editors what your favorite story of 2013 was in the comments section.

Also, be sure to bookmark SearchFinancialApplications in 2014 and check back often for financial technology news, features and advice.

Emma Snider is the associate editor for SearchFinancialApplications. Follow her on Twitter @emmajs24 and the site @SearchFinApps.

This was first published in December 2013

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