Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

About the Analyst

Robert Kugel

Rob heads up the CFO and business research focusing on the intersection of information technology with the finance organization and business. The financial performance management (FPM) research agenda includes the application of IT to financial process optimization and collaborative systems; control systems and analytics; and advanced budgeting and planning. Prior to joining Ventana Research he was an equity research analyst at several firms including First Albany Corporation, Morgan Stanley, and Drexel Burnham, and a consultant with McKinsey and Company. Rob was an Institutional Investor All-American Team member and on the Wall Street Journal All-Star list. Rob has experience in aerospace and defense, banking, manufacturing and retail and consumer services. Rob earned his BA in Economics/Finance at Hampshire College, an MBA in Finance/Accounting at Columbia University, and is a CFA charter holder.


Recent Posts

Welcome to the Age of Robotic Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 29, 2017 5:24:49 AM

For several years, I’ve commented on a range of emerging technologies that will have a profound impact on white-collar work in the coming decade. I’ve now coined the term “Robotic finance” to describe this emerging focus, which includes four key areas of technology: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), bots utilizing natural language processing, and blockchain distributed ledger technology (DLT), each of which I describe below. Robotic finance will have a disproportionate impact on finance and accounting departments: I estimate that adoption of these technologies potentially will eliminate one-third of the accounting department’s workload within a decade.

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Topics: ERP, Machine Learning, close, Consolidation, Continuous Accounting, Reconciliation, CFO, Robotic Process Automation, blockchain, AI, natural language processing, Accounting

Robotic Process Automation is a Cornerstone of Digital Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 25, 2017 7:52:13 AM

Robotic process automation (RPA) relies on programming or the application of analytical algorithms to execute the most appropriate action in an automated workflow. RPA enables business users to configure a “robot” (actually, computer software) to interact with applications or data sources to process a transaction, move or manipulate data, communicate with other digital systems and manage machine-to-machine and man-to-machine interactions. This technology is gaining increasing notice by finance departments, with good reason: RPA represents an important step beyond simple process automation in that it uses software to execute routine but complex workflows that require judgment. Rather than making an individual check-off a step in a routine approval, a robotic system applies an algorithm that decides the next step. The system thus does what people spend an awful lot of their time doing every day: making judgments that most of the time could be done by a machine.

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Topics: Operations, automation, close, closing, Continuous Accounting, finance, banking, Robotic Process Automation, Accounting, web crawler, legacy systems, bank

Prophix – Financial Performance Management for Midsize Organizations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 12, 2017 5:47:01 AM

Prophix is an established provider of financial performance management (FPM) software for planning and budgeting, forecasting, analysis and reporting, and managing the financial close and consolidation process. Its eponymous software is designed specifically for midsize companies or midsize divisions of larger corporations. These organizations are a distinctive segment of the market in that they have almost all the functional requirements of large enterprises but have fewer resources to apply to these critical tasks. Fortunately, the evolution of information technology over the past decade has been especially beneficial to midsize customers, bringing them expanded capabilities, substantially better performance and greater automation of routine tasks at an affordable total cost of ownership.

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Topics: Planning, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Consolidation, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning, accounting close, Price and Revenue Management, Work and Resource Management, Sales Planning and Analytics, Midsize

Oracle Demonstrates ERP Cloud Progress at OpenWorld

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 30, 2017 6:27:07 AM

Oracle OpenWorld is a fall event that sprawls over a lot of territory – figuratively in terms of the IT landscape and, if you’re in San Francisco, literally. My focus here is on the ERP portion of the company’s software portfolio.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Cloud Computing, asc 606, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, revenue recognition

Kinaxis Kinexions Advances Supply Chain Value for Customers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 23, 2017 8:52:34 AM

From my perspective, supply chain management (SCM) and sales and operations planning (S&OP) are two of the most underappreciated disciplines of modern corporate management. Properly applied, they can improve performance and competitiveness by increasing customer satisfaction and reducing costs. A combination of more capable information technology with advances in operations research and analytics has made managing supply and demand chains potentially more impactful by making them more flexible and adaptable to market conditions. Consequently, companies can enhance profitability, reduce working capital and improve customer satisfaction by providing more reliable service.

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Topics: ERP, Kinaxis, Supply Chain Planning, Analytics, SCM, S&OP, Sales and Operations Planning, supply chain management, procurement

Intacct is a Sage Investment

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 14, 2017 8:54:36 AM

Sage Intacct recently held its annual user group meeting. The cloud financial management software service provider targets rapidly growing small- and midsize services companies. Within this broad category, Sage Intacct focuses on verticals including software, financial services, healthcare, nonprofits, wholesale and franchisers.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Recurring Revenue, Cloud Computing, asc 606, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, revenue recognition

Country-by-Country Reporting Challenges Tax Departments

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 6, 2017 11:14:06 PM

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a report titled “Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting” (commonly referred to as “BEPS”), which describes the challenges national governments face in enforcing taxation in an increasingly global environment with a growing share of digital commerce. Country-by-country (CbC) Reporting has developed in response to the concerns raised in the report. To date, 65 countries (including all members of the European Union but not the United States) are signatories of the multilateral competent authority agreement establishing CbC reporting.

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Topics: ERP, GRC, audit, finance transformation, LongView, Tax, Business Analytics, Oracle, CFO, Vertex, FPM, legal, tax optimization, tax data warehouse Thomson-Reuters multinational, international tax, tax compliance

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Business Applications

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 26, 2017 7:18:56 AM

The application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to business computing will have a profound impact on white collar professions. This is especially true in heavily rules-based functions such as accounting. Companies recognize the transformational potential of AI and ML, but the progression and pace of the adoption of these technologies is unclear. Some applications of AI and ML are already in use but others are a decade or more away from replacing human tasks.

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Topics: Big Data, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Analytics, CFO, finance, CEO, AI, AICPA, natural language processing, Accounting

Continuous Planning Promotes Action, Accuracy and Agility

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 12, 2017 8:11:29 AM

Continuous planning is a term Ventana Research uses for a high participation, collaborative, action-oriented approach to planning built on frequent, short planning sprints. This enables organizations to enhance the accuracy of their plans because refinements are made at shorter intervals. Short planning cycles enable companies to achieve greater agility in responding to market or competitive changes. “Continuous” also means continuous across the entire organization – planning as an ongoing collaborative dialogue that brings together finance, line-of-business managers and executives. And because it’s high-participation planning and not silo-based, companies can plan with greater accountability and coordination in their operations. This ongoing dialog tracks current conditions as well as changes in objectives and priorities that are driven by markets and the business climate. Continuous planning promotes a forward-looking mindset in planning and reviewing that’s focused on performance improvement.

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Topics: Human Capital, Business Collaboration, finance, Business

SAP Leonardo for Finance: When AI Ain’t Enough

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 1, 2017 10:20:34 AM

Fra Luca Pacioli, a 15th-century Franciscan friar living in what’s now Italy, is credited with codifying double-entry bookkeeping, which is the foundation of accounting. Pacioli, a polymath, was well acquainted with his contemporary and fellow polymath Leonardo Da Vinci. So, given they were at times collaborators, it’s fitting that one of the most important applications of SAP’s Leonardo technology will be in helping to disrupt finance and accounting organizations in corporations.

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Topics: ERP, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Internet of Things, CFO, Artificial intelligence, blockchain, AI