Two focal points emerged during SuiteWorld 2023 this week in Las Vegas. The first is the omnipresent impact that generative AI has on business, and the second is the role that the host Oracle NetSuite will play in the transformation.
The company’s annual event brings together leadership, sales, marketing, and media (e.g. CFO) all under one roof. NetSuite obviously has a vested interest in making sure its story is inspiring for both individuals and organizations who are looking to grow. And for CFOs, many of whom appeared on stage, in interviews, and in conversations, there were multiple valuable learning points.
Here are five takeaways from the event.
1. CFOs Need to be Public Speakers
Many finance leaders want to lead strategically within their organizations. But they can also reach a level higher, through a willingness to step on stage and communicate to the attendees their stories and insights.
“Having a story and the ability for me to share my insight opens up the availability to others to reach out,” said Natalie Laackman, CFO of MedSpeed, who was a keynote speaker on day one.
When asked about the benefits public speaking brings to her and other finance chiefs, Laackman told CFO, “I’ve already had several people who have come up to me and knew my CEO, or people that have connected with me in the past. So it creates a way of connecting that isn’t social media.”
Because of the transformation of the CFO role, the opinions of finance executives about things other than finance are increasingly relevant to all types of professionals. Speaking at industry events requires being efficient and effective at storytelling, a skill that also comes in handy when presenting to the board and the rest of the C-suite.
2. CFOs Want Experienced Tech Providers
NetSuite celebrated its 25th year at the event with an address by founder and EVP Evan Goldberg. And one thing his company prioritizes is the CFO relationship. From CFOs like MSI Viking’s Pete Susca, to CFOs of the future like SeatGeek’s VP of finance Teddy Collins, finance leaders expressed the importance of having a reliable, transparent, and innovative technology partner with a strong reputation and a history of financial stability.
3. CFOs Disagree on Internal Salary Transparency
Finance leaders were torn when asked about the idea of everyone in the company knowing how much everyone else makes. Laackman told CFO it wouldn’t change much at her company, a medical courier services that employs thousands of drivers. “Everyone already tells everybody,” she said.
But others disagreed. Chris Crawley, CFO of restaurant ownership group Hofman Hospitality Group, a 75-year-old business that owns three California-based restaurant chains, believes salary transparency would never work in an organization like his.
His company is navigating through California’s food service wage requirement implementation, which is increasing the competition for restaurant talent. “If everyone in the company knew how much everyone made, it would absolutely deteriorate our culture,” Crawley said. As he explained, determination of compensation is based on a variety of factors that is individually based and earned.
4. ‘Booth Flex’ Marketing Spend Is Increasing
Whether due to the rising price of display booths or the competitiveness of the fintech space forcing companies to do whatever they can to stand out, CFOs should be ready to cut the check if their organizations want to participate. Companies of all sizes are willing to spend big on sponsorships and exhibitions to appear as legitimate players.
A study in early 2023 found that marketers and exhibitors in the United States planned to spend 70% more on B2B events this year than a year earlier.
5. Tech Employees Want to Travel, Not Commute
Amid the ongoing return to office (RTO) negotiation between executives and employees, and the rise of new trends and terms such as “coffee badging,” conference attendees made an important distinction.
Many of those manning the booths who often carry the job titles marketing manager, sales representative, or client relations manager, were clear about working in the office. Sales and marketing teams said they valued meeting with clients face-to-face and attending a conference such as SuiteWorld for personal interaction.
But when it came to internal team collaboration, no one said they thought a regular in-person schedule would make them better at their jobs.