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Corporate Responses to Customer Data Breaches

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After a series of high profile data breaches affecting millions of consumers, executives and lawmakers are paying greater attention to data breach prevention and response standards. Criticisms of the affected companies range from insufficient security precautions, to poor disclosure and remediation.

Federal regulators and banks have argued that retailers and payments systems processors should be held to the same strict data protection and notice standards as financial institutions. Other industry observers have pointed to poor customer service by affected companies following breaches. Has your company revisited its information security programs following recent data breaches? Do you have a formal plan for responding to potential breaches, including notice and remediation?

  • Forbes- 5 Lessons for Every Company from Target’s Data Breach
  • Reuters- U.S. Fed Official Says Uniform Data Breach Disclosure Rules Needed

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    Evolving CFO Priorities in 2014

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    After decades of growing stature as a senior finance executive, in recent years CFOs have taken on responsibility for a broad array of business functions, while also assuming a central role in managing corporate strategy and business performance.

    To achieve success CFOs need to master a broad range of new competencies and build strong relationships with key business leaders across the organization, all of this while managing against an ever-changing set of internal and external business challenges.

    How are you evolving your role, and that of your finance team, within your company? What opportunities and risks are top of mind for you as you look ahead to 2014?

  • CFO Magazine- 8 Top Issues for CFOs in 2014
  • CEB Blogs- Finance Transformation: The Top 5 Trends for 2014
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    Achieving Innovation-Based Growth

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    After five years of delivering earnings growth predominantly through productivity gains, many companies are increasing investment in innovation in the hope of achieving breakthrough growth. While innovation-based strategies are generally high risk/high reward, leading companies are developing ways to mitigate common risks and maximize likelihood of success.

    Successful innovation strategies involve broadening the net for perspectives and ideas through approaches like open innovation and crowd-sourcing, refining organizational design and role definition to maximize agility and collaboration, and deploying a strong “test and learn” culture that celebrates success and leverages failures as learning opportunities.

    How can companies increase their success with innovation-based growth strategies?

  • CIO Magazine- This C-Suite Recognizes that Failure is Part of Innovation
  • Harvard Business Review- Best Practices for Leading Through Innovation
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    Maximizing Strategic Planning Agility

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    As many companies head into strategic planning season, executives continue to struggle with planning in an environment marked by uncertainty and volatility. Leading companies counter these challenges by increasing attention paid to surfacing and continually monitoring the critical assumptions underpinning their strategic plans.

    Common assumptions may center on global economic growth, the price and availability of key resources, or changing customer preferences in core markets.

    What assumption areas do you believe companies should document and monitor to ensure the continued relevance of their strategic plans?

  • CFO Magazine- New Strategies Around Strategy
  • MIT Sloan School of Management- Eli Lilly’s Project Resilience: Anticipating the Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry
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    The Evolving CFO Agenda

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    While the roles and responsibilities have evolved for every member of the “C-Suite,” no executive’s span of control has expanded as much as that of the Chief Financial Officer. CFOs’ roles have grown beyond finance and accounting to increasingly encompass broader responsibility for corporate strategy and operations.

    Recent research reveals that the CFO agenda includes a diverse range of concerns including globalization, technology, risk management, talent, and corporate strategy (while traditional finance and regulatory responsibilities continue to grow more complex).

    What new responsibilities represent the most significant capability gaps for CFOs? How should the CFO profile be adapted to the business environment and needs of the company?

  • ACCA/IMA- The Changing Role of the CFO
  • McKinsey Quarterly- Today’s CFO: Which Profile Best Suits Your Company?
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    Maximizing the Impact of Mid-Year Budget Reviews

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    With mid-year fast approaching, many firms will be assessing revenue and cost performance against budgets drafted last year. Beyond using midyear reviews to simply monitor for overspending, CFOs can maximize the business impact of these reviews by operating three levers: communicating performance, making appropriate course corrections in the mid-year plan update, and maintaining productive pressure on the senior leadership team.

    Recent research reveals other persistent obstacles to successful long-term budget planning, including a lack of high-quality data to inform budgetary decisions, poor integration of capital projects and initiatives into planning processes, and ineffective communication of the plan.

    How does your company use mid-year budget reviews to position the firm for success in the current year and beyond? What challenges to long-term planning is your organization most focused on overcoming?

  • CFO Magazine- Keeping Revenue and Budget on Target
  • Business Finance Magazine- Long-Range Planning: The Good, the Bad (Some Ugly) and the Way Forward
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    What Boards Want to Hear from CFOs this Year

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    Beyond their traditional focus on strategic planning and corporate performance, Board agendas have grown to include a wide range of issues including risk, compliance, globalization and technology. To avoid being caught flat-footed, CFOs need to be prepared to respond to a broad range of potential Board inquiries.

    Experts cite a number of topics as high-interest to Boards in 2013, including new conflict compliance and reporting requirements facing companies, data security policies and approaches, social media options and risks, and the continued evolutions of companies’ global operations.

    What questions do you expect CFOs to receive from Boards in 2013-2014?

  • CFO Magazine – Getting on Board
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    Upgrading Your Leadership Pipeline

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    Given the evolving demands on senior managers today- for instance the increasing importance of global growth to company success, and an operating environment marked by volatility, uncertainty and complexity- many firms are rethinking their leadership pipelines to optimize around a different profile of leader.

    Recent research has revealed that many traditional assumptions about developing global leaders are false. For instance, prior international experience, language and cultural fluency, and organizational tenure and age are not correlated with success as a global manager. Instead, companies are optimizing their leadership pipelines around identifying and developing candidates with agility, influencing skills, and strong internal networks.

    How is your company adapting its leadership pipeline to identify and develop successful global managers in today’s business environment?

  • Human Resource Executive Online – Leadership Pipelines Focusing on Agility as Key Success Trait
  • CEB- Strengthening the Global Leadership Pipeline
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    Leading from the Top on Talent

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    In a January 2013 survey, CEOs rated access to talent as the #2 threat to their company’s growth prospects. With moderate to severe shortages projected across a multitude of job functions and levels, and corporations’ growing reliancy on increasing labor productivity to drive top- and bottom- line performance, the threat is both real and immediate.

    Surprisingly, senior teams and Boards are not prioritizing talent strategy among their responsibilities (beyond senior-level succession and compensation planning), leaving this critical risk unaddressed at the highest levels of the firm. Leading firms are developing ways to hardwire talent into any executive or Board-level strategic planning discussion, and formalize goal-setting and progress assessment. Beyond that, progressive companies are focusing bets on talent issues likely to yield the highest benefit to the firm, such as global leadership development, HIPO retention and development, and high-throughput recruiting channels.

    How does your Board and leadership team include talent in strategic planning conversations? What talent/HR initiatives are receiving the highest priority in 2013?

  • CEB- Four Steps to Upgrade Talent from the Corner Office
  • CFO Magazine- Increasing your Firm’s Return on Human Capital
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    Recent CFO Surveys Reveal Low Expectations for 2013

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    The quarterly Duke University/CFO Magazine global business outlook survey of more than 900 CFOs concluded in December, and the early findings revealed continued concern among finance chiefs. CFO optimism has fallen nearly 10% since the Spring, and reflect a number of internal and external factors. The highest-rated external concern is continued weak consumer demand, while the top internal concern is the ability to maintain profit margins. Other common worries include the “fiscal cliff”, health care costs, attracting and retaining skilled workers, and low employee morale.

    CFOs’ express a very low .1% increase in U.S. hiring in 2013, which would result in an increasing unemployment rate year over year. Capital spending plans have also declined from previous surveys, with CFOs projecting an increase of 2.5% in 2013. Most of the CFOs surveyed replied that payments toward employee benefits and training decreased during the recession, and are not expected to increase to pre-recession levels in 2013. 40% of firms paying employee bonuses expect smaller bonus amounts than in 2012, with 73% of companies paying lower contributions toward retirement benefits.

    Given the uncertain economic environment, where are you prioritizing investment in 2013? How are you mitigating talent risk in light of continued low investment in recruiting/retention, training, and benefits?

  • December Findings from Duke/CFO Magazine Global Business Outlook Survey
  • CEB Q4 Business Barometer Results
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