April and May each year is informally known as ‘conference season’ for banks and treasury solution providers. To avoid conflict with the Association of Financial Professionals annual conference, regional treasury associations typically hold their annual conferences within this two month period. While as a technology provider it means a lot of travel and booth duty, it also creates the opportunity to measure the pulse of the market. What are the trends? What are the hot topics? What’s keeping treasurers and CFOs up at night (apart from jet lag and heartburn from too much conference food)?
This year, I found three consistently discussed topics:
1. Bank Connectivity. Everyone I talked to continues to struggle with best practices to achieve global cash visibility. SWIFT connectivity was heavily discussed as many treasurers sort through myriad choices, trying to find the ideal balance between cost and benefit. Realizing this made me see that a webinar highlighting the different choices would be a helpful presentation, so we partnered with Treasury & Risk to offer “Perfecting Bank Connectivity: Understanding the Choices” on June 20th.
2. Cash Forecasting. Forecasting is always a hot topic and at Chicago’s Windy City Summit, cash forecasting featured in a half dozen different presentations (including Kyriba presenting with Alexander Hamilton Award winner Cunningham Lindsey on the topic of the global impact of successful cash forecasting). A key point in our session was the need to implement a feedback loop to ensure that forecast variances are measured, reported and disseminated to collaborating parties (e.g. remote users) to further refine the accuracy of future forecasts. This continual loop is necessary to improve forecast accuracy and increase confidence in all treasury decisions based off the forecast.
3. The Cloud. Everyone is “in the cloud”… but is everyone actually in the cloud? If you thought figuring out the best option for SWIFT Connectivity was confusing, discerning who is and isn’t cloud can be even more perplexing. Many software providers are marketing themselves as “in the cloud”, yet a large number aren’t actually cloud solutions, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a Department of Commerce division that is seen as the authority in defining technology standards, including the proper definition of Cloud and Software-as-a-Service. By its definition, hardly any treasury software providers (especially TMS providers) fall into any of the four cloud categories: private, public, community, or hybrid cloud.
Last October, we created a piece called “SaaS vs. ASP – Beware The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” At each of the conferences I attended, there were many wolves trying to sneak into the flock! What’s most interesting is that there are significant scalability and efficiency limitations with ASP, compared to real SaaS applications. I found this incredibly ironic because scalability and efficiency are why most organizations (especially IT teams) invest in cloud technology in the first place. I can only surmise that ASP vendors masquerading as cloud technology are hoping that IT doesn’t get involved and find the wolf, so to speak.
Anyways, treasury conference season culminates with the New York Cash Exchange and the AFP Canada Treasury Management Forum at the end of May and second week of June, respectively. If we haven’t seen you already, perhaps we’ll see you there or at one of our upcoming webinars with gtnews (May 23rd) or Treasury & Risk (June 20th).
Happy treasury…and beware of wolves!