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Op-ed: Everything that can be automated should be: Levi Strauss CFO

An indication is posted in entrance of the Levi Strauss & Co. headquarters on April 09, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Pictures Information | Getty Pictures

The function of the chief monetary officer has expanded properly past conventional finance. Firms’ crucial have to construct for a digital future — pushed by customers whose digital preferences proceed to speed up — is including a brand new technological remit to CFOs of all industries. At the moment, CFOs are liable for allocating sources to arrange sturdy digital foundations; championing the appropriate expertise and organizational construction to implement digital aims; testing earlier than shortly scaling value-creating applied sciences like information visualization, robotics, synthetic intelligence; and relentlessly measuring whereas speaking the shareholder worth created.

Serving as extra cross-functional C-suite executives, CFOs are working side-by-side with their C-suite colleagues to restructure and refocus companies for sustainable profitability whereas defining and telling the story of how worth is created by digital transformation.  

Because the CFO of the 168-year-old firm Levi Strauss & Co., I am continually working with my colleagues to determine methods wherein we are able to do issues higher, sooner and extra effectively by the usage of rising applied sciences and environment friendly enterprise processes. Having the CIO and the ERP group report into me permits me to make sure that sources are allotted in the direction of automating and digitizing the processes throughout the group. Investing on this proactively as we take a look at and scale digital instruments, like robotics and AI capabilities, throughout the enterprise helps us unlock actual development alternatives and finally drive our enterprise ahead. 

The CNBC @Work Summit returns

On October 13, Michael Dell, Ray Dalio, Financial institution of America Chief Operations and Expertise Officer Cathy Bessant, WeWork Government Chairman Marcelo Claure, Levi Strauss & Co. CFO Harmit Singh and Estee Lauder CFO Tracey Travis will discuss constructing a resilient future and extra. Register now.

As extra corporations embark on their very own digital journeys, here is my recommendation for different CFOs trying to perceive their function in main and pursuing a profitable digital transformation.

Create unity

For a real digital transformation to take maintain and show useful long-term, corporations have to begin with a stable plan and construct the appropriate digital basis. CFOs, in partnership with their C-suite colleagues, have to assume holistically throughout the group and implement know-how techniques on the core of their operations to allow simplified, standardized, and built-in processes all through each group of the enterprise.

Whereas comparatively dated, enterprise useful resource planning (ERPs) techniques are nonetheless the lifeline for companies. These techniques have modernized all through the a long time to maintain up with orbiting applied sciences, however it’s on the CFO to make sure these techniques combine with pricing techniques, operations, supply-chain-management techniques, and each different facet of the group. They’re one of many foundations of a profitable digital transformation. My function,  working with the ERP group, is to make sure that our workers and prospects expertise this digital transformation not as a pure technological change however a change that simplifies their work and permits them to make data-driven selections with real-time enterprise insights — finally accelerating market share development and profitability.

The funding in know-how is commonly intimidating. Returns should not in a single day, making it exhausting to justify the associated fee.

Our personal digital transformation began with a devoted group made up of each enterprise and technical expertise upgrading to a cloud-based ERP platform, enhancing visibility into key wholesale, direct-to-consumer and manufacturing information throughout all gross sales channels and areas globally. Defining the processes and configuring the platform to ship these processes throughout order administration, stock administration and omnichannel allocation — in addition to one single world monetary system of document — supercharges our operational effectivity and basically adjustments the best way we do enterprise. That is game-changing worth.

Champion tech expertise

Constructing the appropriate world numerous group and a tradition of innovation to create, implement and handle these platforms and new applied sciences is equally essential. We’re residing in an period the place expertise, particularly tech expertise, is tough to safe, and we’re competing with corporations that span industries. However whereas there’s nice world expertise to recruit, there’s additionally nice expertise to construct.

At Levi Strauss, we’re targeted on fostering an enterprise-wide tradition of innovation and are investing in our individuals — a number of the finest expertise in retail. Our persons are the important thing drivers of our digital transformation and the perfect ones to construct the way forward for our firm. We have launched into a company-wide digital upskilling initiative to assist our individuals study and observe the skillsets we have to obtain our digital transformation from the within. Digital savvy workers should stay throughout all departments, together with finance. Now we have additionally established world functionality facilities that permit us to not solely recruit expertise nearer to our customers but additionally construct a various expertise group.

Equally, creating the applications, initiatives and area for innovation can also be important, and it is the C-suite’s duty to champion these alternatives. For me, I am proud to play my half and have been a sponsor of our ongoing hackathon collection. By bringing our individuals collectively to collaboratively clear up issues in a brief time period, we’re creating a strong engine for thought technology to raised serve our customers. Our 2021 hackathon occasion included 35 groups from throughout 11 nations that got here collectively to share concepts and add to our digital future. The highest three groups introduced their enterprise case for funding to the chief group the place we may determine which concepts to take to the following stage. From chat bots to self-checkout, the ensuing software program options introduced at our hackathons have a enterprise affect.

Befriend automation

The whole lot that may be automated, must be automated. As CFOs, we have to continually do not forget that, and push our groups to do the identical. Our groups shouldn’t be spending hours coming into information from one system into one other, updating spreadsheets, or copying over datasets. As an alternative, we have to free workers from such tedious duties and permit them to spend their time analyzing and fixing the extra sophisticated issues.

Robotic Course of Automation (RPA) is gaining in recognition throughout all industries as increasingly more companies see how its strategies can save companies 30–40% of the hours sometimes spent on tedious duties. I have been on a private mission to deal with this inside Levi Strauss, and I am excited to see our group embrace RPA with open arms. We created our personal RPA Heart of Excellence group the place it is targeted on discovering automation alternatives and scaling automation throughout features in our group, in flip releasing up invaluable sources to hold out our long-term digital-first imaginative and prescient.

The funding in know-how is commonly intimidating. Returns should not in a single day, making it exhausting to justify the associated fee. However as CFOs, we have to assist prioritize tasks that create worth whereas balancing foundational investments that may speed up digital transformation These applied sciences can unlock monumental potential throughout the enterprise from saving on operational prices to uncovering new enterprise alternatives to predicting areas of concern.

There has by no means been a extra essential time for CFOs to comprehend constructing for a digital future is paramount, particularly as we proceed to face challenges from the pandemic and plan for the long run. In unsure financial environments, it is key to have probably the most up-to-date, real-time information readily available to make fast selections concerning the strategic route of your corporation.

Because the CFO of a model steeped in heritage, I am excited concerning the future and what’s attainable once we collectively lean into digital transformation.

—By Harmit Singh, Government Vice President and Chief Monetary Officer at Levi Strauss & Co. Singh is a member of the CNBC World CFO Council.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/07/op-ed-everything-that-can-be-automated-should-be-levi-strauss-cfo.html | Op-ed: The whole lot that may be automated must be: Levi Strauss CFO

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