Key Takeaways from InTheBlack 2019
Recently, BlackLine convened nearly 2,000 finance, technical accounting, and industry experts in Los Angeles for four days of dynamic programming to explore how automation and digital transformation are changing today’s finance and accounting landscape. As a BlackLine sponsor, Riveron attended the conference in order to discuss best practices and exciting new trends with customers and other partner firms. During this time, we learned more about how customers are using BlackLine as part of their own automation journeys. Additionally, Riveron experts led a session on the importance of optimizing existing accounting and finance processes to maximize a technology implementation.
Here are our key takeaways from InTheBlack 2019.
Integration is top of mind
BlackLine is continuing to develop new and optimize existing integrations with ERP and other systems to pull in data. To date, it has integrated with more than 150 different ERP systems. This coordination between systems, which can yield a more seamless ability to transfer information, is crucial to realizing a company’s automation goals. Finance and accounting teams will undoubtedly welcome this news, as they often rely on internal IT to manually develop the connection either through an API or an extract and FTP site. By continuing to focus on the pre-configured connectors and partnerships with other software vendors like SAP, Host Analytics, and Workiva, integration challenges can be alleviated.
Self-service options will save time and resources
In order to create a more efficient user experience, BlackLine is improving its self-service options from both an implementation and maintenance standpoint. This includes creating intelligent defaults so that certain settings are pre-configured to save time. By developing simpler connectivity, companies will no longer need to depend on BlackLine developers for many of their basic configurations such as journal configuration and data sources. These changes will enable end users to more quickly and easily leverage BlackLine’s most powerful automation products, such as automated journal entries and transaction matching.
Many companies are not taking full advantage
While the number of companies using digitized finance and accounting processes is growing, many are not taking full advantage of what automation technology has to offer. Several customers at InTheBlack acknowledged that they use BlackLine as a data repository for tasks on the month-end close process, rather than leveraging its full suite of capabilities. Others cited the financial commitment, an unclear understanding of BlackLine benefits, or a lack of expertise when it comes to developing a strategic roadmap as deterrents. Engaging implementation partners to determine goals, optimize existing functions, and identify opportunities can be a helpful way to unlock BlackLine’s true value.
Partnership improvements are a win-win
Since nearly 40% of BlackLine customers also use SAP software and technology solutions, finding ways to improve SAP-specific functionality is key. BlackLine will double down on its SAP relationship, enhancing key functions—such as connectors and Smart Close—and will sharpen its new Solution Extension (SolEx) partnership. As part of this partnership, SAP will become a reseller with BlackLine, which will enable new process improvements separate from SAP’s core offerings and a more seamless experience for users of both platforms.
A “cloud-first” strategy will yield new opportunities
BlackLine’s new agreement with Google Cloud will enable the addition of “cloud-native capabilities such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.” By shifting focus to these innovative offerings, rather than on building data centers, BlackLine can deliver a more diverse and powerful suite of services as it continues to scale globally. According to BlackLine, the transition to Google Cloud will be a multi-year process and is scheduled to begin this fall.
Riveron’s partnership approach allows us to recommend the right solution for each of our client’s specific situations. By partnering with world-class, cloud-based technologies, we are able to broaden our ability to serve and deliver client-focused solutions to address the most complex challenges. To learn more about Riveron’s BlackLine capabilities and offerings, click here.