Fusion 2014, the premier conference and training event for financial operations professionals, is now in the books, and after soaking in educational breakout sessions, keynote and motivational speakers, and award presentations at the May 5-8 event held at Dallas’ Gaylord Texan Resort, we came away with enough fresh insights on financial operations and life in general to fill a book. But, since it’s almost summer and we know everyone’s pretty busy right now, we’ve distilled all the learnings into a top 10 list: 

10. Know the score (and everything in business has one). Do not overlook the importance of developing the right success measures. Developing reporting metrics remains a struggle for many companies, but it’s essential to show the C-suite that your work is making a positive difference in the company.

9. Automation rules! In addition to our clients, we heard lots of great stories about how automating financial processes makes a huge difference within an organization. We suggest you look into an automated solution ASAP. Don’t keep putting it off.

8. Stack your team for success. Enlist other stakeholders in the organization to ensure automation projects get done on time and on budget. Information technology, internal audit, and the accounts receivable (AR) or accounts payable (AP) departments are all stakeholders who can gain from automation, and they’ll probably do all they can to help implement a project that will help them succeed. Reach out to these groups as you build your case for automation and reap the benefits of a successful project.

7. Cost savings in AP and AR automation is only one chapter in the story. While cost savings is important, the greater benefit of AR and AP automation can be found in improved controls, forecasting accuracy, and increased visibility into corporate obligations.

6. P-Cards pretty much rock - P-Cards represent great opportunities for cost savings and improved risk management, and many companies are actively pursuing automated P-Card integration. Graybar’s Gina Kelly, a DataServ client, delivered a great presentation on P-Cards, as she offered tremendous insights regarding the sales and use tax compliance issues her company faces and how DataServ automation is helping Graybar meet their reporting and compliance challenges.

5. “Go fly a kite” took on new meaning. The Fusion awards luncheon featured an uplifting speech by nationally renowned motivational speaker Bob Kodzis, who drove home a most important message: Nothing is impossible. This was proven a short time later when a kite was flown indoors, right in the presentation hall, by one of Bob’s sidekicks.

4. Get out of the mailroom business and get 100% electronic invoice data without the hassle of a supplier portal. There was a great deal of interest around how to get invoice data through more effective use of optical character recognition (OCR) and quality assurance checking as opposed to using a supplier portal. Scott Gilley from Emerson Process Management explained how to do it! 

DataServ and Sony winning AR Innovation award3. The Innovation Award is a tremendous honor. The Institute of Financial Operations awarded DataServ and Michael Schillo, the Vice President of Finance at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, with the AR Innovation Award at the annual Fusion awards luncheon on May 7 (pictured from left to right: Andre Hale, ‎Vice President, Disney Worldwide Shared Services - Transaction Services & Operations at The Walt Disney Company, Michael Schillo, and DataServ Founder/CEO Jeff Haller at the official AR Innovation Award presentation). Given all the great companies and individuals that were nominated for this prestigious award, it means a lot to be recognized as a leader in AR automation!                                      

2. Client presenters are the best!  Financial operations professionals appreciate hearing stories and case studies from their peers. Our thanks to Graybar, Emerson Process Management, and Blackhawk Industrial for sharing their stories with this audience. If you’d like to review any of the presentation slides from our six educational breakout sessions, send an email to (all sessions are previewed in previous blog posts).

1. There are 25 million reasons to automate your AR process. Schillo did a wonderful job in discussing how DataServ streamlined his AR process and helped Sony reduce bad debt by $25.5 million, from $26 million in 2006 to $500,000 in 2014.

And lastly - Sometimes the original is just better. We were all served canned margaritas at Fusion’s kickoff party and….well…..let’s just say they aren’t very good. The “original is better” mantra can be applied to many walks of life, including financial operations. DataServ has been successful in process automation for 20 years, and we are proud to remain trailblazers in this burgeoning industry.  

In closing, we would like to offer a special thank you to our client presenters for sharing their insights with their peers. DataServ truly has great clients! We appreciate you all.

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