Disruption and innovation come from collaboration, not technology

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By: Andrew Lafontaine, General Manager, HCM, Oracle Australia

There’s currently much talk about the disruption technology is causing in the business world, but this discussion often misses a key point. Technology doesn’t disrupt; people do. Technology doesn’t innovate; people do.

People are your organisation’s most valuable resource, and they can be both enablers and obstacles to achieving change.

“As companies seek to grow, the two most likely obstacles they will face are a scarcity of funding and a shortage of human capital. To overcome these finance and talent bottlenecks, CEOs are increasingly coming to rely on both the CFO and the CHRO,” said Tim Jennings, Chief Research Officer and Research Fellow at analyst firm, Ovum.

Technology has amplified the potential of people. The question is, are your organisation and its leaders collaborating to tap in to that potential?

This is where the HR and finance functions must work as a cohesive whole, (along with the complete executive team). Individually, each has a role to play but it’s people management and financial decisions together that will determine long-term success.

Consumer finance business Pepper Group is a hugely innovative Oracle Cloud customer that demonstrates the power of cross-departmental collaboration.

Sue Kent, Head of Human Resources at Pepper Group, says, “While HR deals with people and Finance is focused on money, it is vital to build a solid bridge between the two areas. The biggest cost to our business is people, and so making sure we retain the very best and make them as productive as possible is important for future growth.”

Kent also states that it’s vital that no department has its own particular agenda. All must work together towards a shared goal. “When information is presented to senior management, whether by one department or together, it needs to be consistent and accurate and this can only come from having a platform that spans the business.”

Kent’s colleague, Cameron Small, Group Chief Financial Officer at Pepper Group, argues that an important factor for his company’s success was having a flat management structure.

“Communication and collaboration is key, particularly when it comes to the HR and Finance departments. By understanding the priorities of each, informed decisions can be made that will help the organisation achieve its goals.”

In fast-changing times, it’s clear that business leaders must adapt their thinking.

Steve Vamos, Non-Executive Director of Telstra and Fletcher Building Limited, and former CEO of Microsoft ANZ and Ninemsn, said, “to be truly successful, business leaders have to shift their mindset… [so that we’re] better suited to the world in which we operate and [enabling] the potential that people and technology have to achieve great things.”

The predominating mindset these days is averse to making mistakes. The transition for many businesses now is to adopt a culture of caring and connecting (rather than controlling) and listening and learning (ahead of knowing).

Working together, and supported by a closely-knit and aligned team, HR and Finance can more effectively support new initiatives, explore ideas and raise productivity, delivering immediate results and, over time, boosting the business bottom line.

Find more information on Oracle’s solutions here.

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