The Tech-Savvy CFO: Transforming Finance in the Digital Age

April 4, 2024 Theresa Rex

tech-savvy CFO in office taking down notes

Do modern CFOs need to consider integrating AI, automation, or analytics into their financial operations? The answer is a resounding yes. These technologies are not only useful for streamlining accounting processes but also for making more informed strategic decisions that can give businesses a competitive edge. To shed light on the role of a tech-savvy CFO, we have invited Aneal Vallurupalli to share his expertise.

Aneal is the CFO at Airbase, a company focused on helping businesses with their spend management needs. He has vast experience in corporate finance, corporate development, operations, and technology mergers and acquisitions. Before joining Airbase, Aneal was the Vice President of Finance and Operations at Mattermost, where he played a key role in significantly increasing the company's enterprise value.

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Megan - 00:00:18: Today, my guest is Aneal Vallurupalli. Aneal joined Airbase as its Chief Financial Officer in 2021. He began his career in investment banking with a focus on M&A in the tech sector at Union Square Advisors and DNY. He has held leadership positions in strategic finance and operations at Mattermost, Mapbox, and Guidewire. Aneal is a graduate of Santa Clara University's Levy School of Business, where he also played Division I tennis. Aneal thank you very much for being my guest on today's episode of CFO Weekly.

Aneal - 00:01:25: Thank you so much for having me. Looking forward to it.

Megan - 00:01:27: Yeah, today we'll be discussing the journey of a modern CFO and touching on subjects such as implementing modern technology for accounting automation and streamlining accounting processes. Megan, I'm looking forward to hearing your perspective on these topics and learning from your experience. So let's jump right in.

Aneal - 00:01:44: Awesome.

Megan - 00:01:45: First and as always, let's just start with a little bit about you and your background and how it is that you got to where you are today.

Aneal - 00:01:52: You know, my background's not too atypical for many folks in finance. I started life a few years out of college working in investment banking and more specifically buy side and sell side M&A advisory engagements for software businesses, technology, but probably 80% of those deals are software businesses. And from there, I joined a company called Guidewire Software that I actually helped as their advisor for a while and started at Guidewire and spent about five years there helping that company, which had gone public and we'd help them go public. And so I joined that company about a month after it went public and was there for about five years. Saw that grow quickly from 600 person company to around a 3000 employee business, about a $600 million market cap to about a four and a half, $5 billion market cap at that time. And for five years, I wanted to actually go smaller again and see if I could take those learnings from Guidewire, where I led for devs, strategic finance, global sales operations, business operations, and take that to a smaller company and see if it could help businesses grow from an earlier stage, given what I had learned. And so that's kind of a theme of my companies I've worked for is trying to take away learnings and apply it to an earlier stage business to see if I can help de-risk those companies for the future. From there, I went to a company called Mapbox. That was a very quickly growing mapping API company. We went from around 20 to 80 million of ARR and scaling super quickly. And that was a lot of fun. SoftBank, Series C led that investment. It was about $170 million investment. I was leading finance for that business and that scaled super fast. I think I was employee 100 or 130 in that range. And by the time I'd left two years later, it was around 500, 600 employees. So rapid growth. And then I went to another company called Mattermost. It's a bit smaller, but at this time, it was also an open source business. Mapbox being open source. Mattermost was also open source. So I felt like, oh, you know, I understand this open source business model, which is oftentimes a product-led growth business model. And the cool thing about Mattermost was I was getting to run all of GNA. And that to me was exciting to understand the broader set of the business. And Mattermost being a global company and remote only was operating in 30 plus countries. And GNA was business operations, finance, IT, legal, HR, people recruiting across all those areas. And for me, that was super fun. And through those experiences, about five years ago, I actually met our CEO founder, Thejo, here at Airbase, as he had started to build out the Airbase product. And I met Thejo about five years ago. And three years ago, I decided to make the leap. The main reason for me was obviously Thejo has been a fantastic partner the last three years. But it was clear when I was speaking to him that this was going to be really good relationship. And more importantly, I never worked for a company where I was the ideal customer profile. It meant that coming to the company, I would have a fair amount of understanding as to what's the product we're building? What's the segment of the market we're going after? How can I help with prospects and bringing in leads as well as how can I help with existing customers? And so for me, here at Airbase, that's been the most fun part is obviously working with a great group of folks, but having a very in-depth understanding as to what is the evolution of our product that we want to have, as well as the customer that we'd like to service.

Megan - 00:05:18: So if you could tell us a little bit about your role at Airbase and where you were in your own personal CFO journey three years ago when you joined them. And what were your top priorities or maybe your top priority?

Aneal - 00:05:33: Three years ago, let's see. So I joined Airbase right around the Series B timeframe. And what that had meant was, you know, Airbase had found fantastic product market fit. It was servicing really strong companies in the 200 to 400, 500 employee range. And when I joined the company, in my personal journey, I was effectively operating as CFO at my last company. I actually had an offer to be CFO at that business. And let's say Thejo jumped in at the most opportune time for us to have a discussion. And so, you know, I was really operating as CFO at my last company and really looking to stay there for a while. But, you know, Thejo is a really good salesman and the opportunity I couldn't pass up really here at Airbase. So when I joined Airbase, you know, we had a couple accounting folks. We did not have a mature operations, not just finance, but a mature operations function occurring. So, you know, the first thing I needed to do at Airbase was, number one, my background is M&A, strategic finance, FP&A. And so what that means is you need to hire for your weaknesses. And that meant I needed to find a really strong controller that could lead all of accounting and take us through our first audit, which we would eventually pick Deloitte a year later. And so, you know, I hired Kelly Hicks, who's fantastic controller. She was at Anaplan four years pre-IPO, four years post-IPO, and she's been awesome for us. And then next, I hired a really strong director of strategic finance as well, who could help me start to build not just where are we today with this company on our operating financial model, but where do we want to be over the next 12, 24, 36 months. And then we said, okay, well, we need data. And so one of my biggest schticks, I would say, over the last couple of companies has been running the data and analytics teams. And so what I really love is actually understanding a company's data map and what, you know, what data is pulling and pushing from where and is that what we want? Can we get the definitions orchestrated in our systems and get accurate information? So that was the next hire. And then unique to Airbase's business model was we are moving billions of dollars of company or customers payments. We need to hire a really strong risk and compliance leader. So I hired a strong VP of risk and compliance that reports to me. And then more recently, over the last few quarters, I've been spending a lot of time with the post-sale sign. So I've been heavily involved in managing the onboarding team, the customer success team, now also the renewal account management team. And so that's kind of where I am in the journey. And it's been a lot of fun. And I mentioned earlier, Airbase, when I first joined, was solving this, call it, spend management problem for 200 to 400, 500 employee companies. And now we're solving the full procure-to-pay problem for 9,000, 10,000 employee businesses. And so the company and the product and our processes have matured tremendously over the last few years.

Megan - 00:08:32: I'm just curious, have you guys implemented a new ERP since you joined?

Aneal - 00:08:37: Actually, no. We are close partners with NetSuite. Positive for me was that I did not have to deal with the ERP implementation. Thankfully, I did do that at my last two companies, helping those companies move off of QuickBooks and onto NetSuite. And so we are close partners with NetSuite as well as Sage Intacct. I think our team is actually at the Sage Intacct conference right now. And actually, as of the last few weeks ago, we've opened up a whole host of ERP capabilities, meaning we can now support 70 plus ERPs.

Megan - 00:09:06: Wow. So does it just lay on top of an ERP? And how is the integration?

Aneal - 00:09:11: That's a good question. So we are directly integrated with Callidus, QuickBooks, and more importantly, and where we focus a lot more, our depth of our integration is with NetSuite and Intacct. Really shortly here, we have Microsoft Dynamics coming out, which are API integrations, right? Which gives you that real-time capability to sync two-way into the ERP. With the 70+, we are consistently offering API integrations into a few of them, you know, in our roadmap. And many of those 70-plus will be flat-file type integration. So you can actually take the transaction information out of your procure-to-pay solution and load it into your ERP through a flat file.

Megan - 00:09:53: And speaking of technology, so obviously very important these days for companies to implement modern technology. But also the economy's current state doesn't make it that easy to make some of these investments. So what's been your philosophy throughout your career around balancing investment and protecting cash flow?

Aneal - 00:10:16: Yeah, I think not just mine. I spent a lot of time with CFOs across many industries now, given Airbase, you know, I'm very lucky in that we get to spend time with a lot of our customers. One thing I will emphasize is that as CFOs, we're always open to hearing the investment rationale for why do we need, why do we think we need to invest in this piece of technology? And the most important thing that needs to come through is a couple different flavors of rationale. One is, quite literally, do we have hard dollar value savings by implementing this product? And then do we have soft dollar value savings? So examples of hard dollar value savings can be I literally, Airbase, by converting some of your ACH payments into virtual card payments, and that virtual card, you receive cash back on every swipe, virtual swipe. You have now converted what was a more ACH payment run process into an automated virtual card process, which is number one, as I mentioned, giving you hard dollar value savings. But number two, it's also giving you soft dollar value savings because your team is not spending time doing ACH payment runs. So that's an example of a soft dollar value saving. And so we have many hard dollar, soft dollar savings across each one of our products and modules. But the reason I mentioned that is because that rationale holds true to almost every software we look at as a business.

Megan - 00:11:47: What are some of the proudest moments that you've had in the last three years where you've managed to stimulate growth using an innovative strategy?

Aneal - 00:11:56: So, being three years here at Airbase, companies evolved so much over that time. It'd be afforded to pick one moment, but if I were to, I would say that over the last year, one thing that I've been pushing and we as a company have been aligning to is something called value metrics. It was clear to me that as we were starting to service larger and larger customers, it wasn't enough to just provide a software solution that was delighting our customers and end users. But we also need to be able to give our champions the ability to understand how can we drive their career forward? How can we make their finance work a better version of itself? And so I started to, and Thejo and I started to look at what we call value metrics. And so for each module within Airbase, we have called AP automation, we have expense management, we have guided procurement, which is the intake product, and we have physical and virtual cards. Each one of those modules has a subset of three or four value metrics underneath it that can indicate how is the customer doing? Are they using the product really well? Are they seeing a lot of value? Actually, if they're not, can we as a post-sales team show them a path to really transforming their business a bit more? So here's an example. One of the things we track is no-touch bill payments. So as an example, what does it mean to be able to receive an invoice as a company and have nobody touch that invoice? Up until the point the AP manager hits pay. Zero touch invoice processing. And so if we can track that, then we can show customers how the processes that Airbase is creating is literally saving them a lot of time internally. As I mentioned, soft dollar value savings. And so I would say that as we started to implement this in both pre-sales and post-sales, it's been very gratifying to see how it's resonating with customers and ultimately kind of showcasing to our customers and our prospects how we're a deep partner with them. We're not just a software vendor, we're partnering with them to create a much better version of their finance org.

Megan - 00:14:09: You know, that's a really great value of taking data and turning it into not only insights, but actions.

Aneal - 00:14:16: Right. Right. That's an awesome for us.

Megan - 00:14:19: And I've heard you discuss the importance of ruthless prioritization, especially for public companies. Obviously, for CFOs these days, being spread too thinly is a concern. So how do tools like AI and automation alter your thinking here, if at all? Do you feel like these tools maybe take a little bit off of the CFO's plate or do they just result in different things to prioritize?

Aneal - 00:14:46: I do not believe that there's a separate swim lane for AI that called bifurcates the prioritization framework that we use. And the reason I say that is because I also know how we think about our product roadmap here at Airbase. AI is on that roadmap. We are already leveraging AI in many ways. I described to you no touch invoice, zero touch invoice processing, and AI plays a role in that. Now, what is that role? Do you drop everything in development to only focus on this AI thing because it's what everyone in the news is talking about AI, AI, AI? No, right? You have to balance what is the value the AI is going to provide to our customers with the rest of the feature sets that need to be developed. And so for us, they just always mention that we are going to focus on AI. We are. We have been. But it's not going to be the only thing we're going to talk about. It's going to be an ingredient to what makes us great. And so I think that that is a similar thought process exists for any company looking to adopt AI in various processes within their business. I think AI is going to be an ingredient for success. It's not going to be the sole reason for success. And due to that, I would say it doesn't bifurcate the typical prioritization frameworks that we all use internally to decide what are we doing for the next week, two weeks, four weeks, and how are we delivering to that.

Megan - 00:16:07: Do you think there'll ever come a day where AI replaces the need for finance and accounting?

Aneal - 00:16:13: I hope not. But I do think that the day is here and the day is coming where AI is going to make our lives and finance easier. And why I say that is because it is already helping customers that leverage Airbase. And it's making their life easier. What I have not yet seen is the ability for AI to make informed and strategic long-term decisions. And so an example of that means, my opinion around this may change if I feel like I can load my company's financial model into an AI tool. And it's 95% correct with how I think about the future decisions we need to make as a company. Or it's actually challenging in the correct way. And I don't see that being the case yet right now, especially not for early enterprise companies. Maybe companies like Google's and the Microsoft are leveraging AI in a way in the finance teams that is helping in that way. But I just don't see it being ubiquitous at this time.

Megan - 00:17:16: Airbase was recently recognized in Forrester's accounts payable invoice automation landscape for Q4 of 2023 report. So how is this a testament to your ability and drive to innovate in the accounting space?

Aneal - 00:17:31: Honestly, it's a testament to our team's capabilities. Our team here, we've been ruthlessly focused on going upmarket. And for us, what that means, as I mentioned to you earlier, when I joined the company, 200, 400, 500 employees, we were signing those kind of customers up consistently. Now we are consistently signing up 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 employee companies. And what do those type of companies need through the procuring process to validate that they're going with the right vendor? When I was in Guidewire at a public company, we oftentimes cited research as either the rationale behind why we don't go with the vendor or as the rationale why this is the right vendor for us. And so our team on the go-to-market side, as well as many folks on product, have been spending many hours with the analysts at Gartner and Forrester and many others. So these publications and these research analysts can understand who are we, Airbase, as a company and what does our product represent. And it's gratifying to see as favorably mentioned in these reports, because I know as a buyer of products that these reports help me make decisions. And so this is not, I always stress this to companies that I'm at, that this is not a, you know, a one quarter journey to get validation enforced or like this. This takes companies many quarters of effort to even be mentioned. And so I, when we, when we saw this came out internally as a company, I was super, super excited and happy for the team as I know they've been spending a bunch of time on it.

Megan - 00:19:02: Do the AP or procurement or P2P needs of a company change? Like, is there a difference between a company that's 200 to 400 employees versus 2000 to 4,000 employees, or is it just that the bigger company has more volume?

Aneal - 00:19:19: No, tremendous difference. Huge, huge difference. If I were to tell you at a 200 person company. More than likely, it's not just about the payment volume. You more than likely have a more simpler setup to your finance and accounting operations. You may not have subsidiaries in 20 countries. You may not need to be converting currency through the Airbase platform on a daily basis and being able to sync to foreign bank accounts and push money internationally like that. You may not need to be able to, definitely a 200-person company, very rarely see that they're using like ironclad and DocuSign integration systems. And so when you start to get to that 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 employee company, it's not just the volume that makes it tricky. It's the internal processes that make it tricky because there are more stakeholders at the table. So at a 200-person company, where procuring something may involve one person, at a 2,000-person company, it will likely include the procurement person, the legal person, the accounting person, the FP&A person, the manager involved, the CFO potentially, the CTO, InfoSec to review. And so how does Airbase, the system, bring all those personas together into a single tool to align the rationale and the need to purchase this thing? All of that is way more complicated at a larger 2,000, 4,000-employee company than it is at a 200-person business.

Megan - 00:20:53: Makes sense. So have your products evolved along the way or were they always capable of handling those larger clients?

Aneal - 00:21:03: No, the products evolved. The product evolves, I like to say, every day. As I mentioned, when I joined the company, the product was more tuned for that segment, lower segment. And what we've done in the last two, three years, as you mentioned, ruthless prioritization is we've said we want to play with this upmarket ideal customer profile. Which means we actively turn down actually a lot of businesses that are 10 employees, 15 employees, 30 employees, and we send them to other providers. Because that is not where our product is best tuned these days. That doesn't mean we don't have a good subset of customer base in there that we support on daily basis. We do and we will continue to deliver and delight their experience. But as a business, we are focused on rinse and repeating the sale and making our customers extremely successful in that 2,000 to 8,000 employee segment. And that took a long time to get the product there in many ways, right? I mentioned we have four modules. Each one of those modules has a level of depth you have to build to be able to service the larger enterprises.

Megan - 00:22:04: And how are tools like Airbase's guided procurement helping to make businesses more financially streamlined and efficient?

Aneal - 00:22:12: Actually, it's really funny. I was on with an existing customer yesterday and they described to me their problem. And when I heard their problem, I got super excited because I knew we had something for them. And so the problem they described to me was that right now with their company. They are using a Google Sheets to field purchase requests. So employee marketing as an example, will ultimately say, raise their hand to their manager and say, hey, I really think we need to purchase this piece of software. And their manager will say, okay, if you can go like, you know, write that thing down in this Google thing, let's go from there. What people end up doing then is that that Google thing, you end up having to have multiple stakeholders at the company figure out, do I need to look at this? So InfoSec, how do you get the InfoSec person involved? Is it a software that's going to be touching customer data? Is it going to be touching production data? What's the vendors, InfoSec policies, et cetera. IT, do we have a duplicative system here? Have we already purchased something like this? Think about Jira, Asana, Notion, all these things that are used in similar ways, but oftentimes in different parts of the organization. Is there a chance we can just use one of those instead of having to purchase this thing? FP&A, budget approval, accounting, payment terms, legal. So do a document review and make sure we get red lines and get the terms that we want. And then, like I mentioned, manager approval, potentially executive approval based on either the type of thing you're purchasing or maybe the dollar value of the thing you're purchasing. What we see is that companies that don't have Airbase helping them with this, it often takes them 40 days for that whole thing, that whole process to be woven together. And it's very chaotic. It'll be through the form of Slack messages, emails, phone calls, text messages, where all these different constituents, personas at the company are interacting. We have a product called Guided Procurement that came out a little over a year ago. And what Guided Procurement does is it takes all of that chaos of collaborating around spend, and it puts it all within Airbase. And so what happens then is that, when an employee feels, submits a request based on the advanced approvals and workflows, that request will auto route to the correct personas of the company for them to review in a timely manner. What that means, quite simply, is we are taking a 40 to 45-day process, and we have public companies that are driving that down to three business days. So when we talk about efficiency and culture of change and spend, the product helps drive that internally, and it takes this chaos away. We've seen customers delighted about it. Honestly, that product came out about a year ago, and I can confidently say that it's exceeded our expectations commercially in terms of the attach rate, the uptick, the MPS scores with it, and the virality behind existing customers wanting to purchase. So the team's done a great job pushing that out.

Megan - 00:25:11: Yeah, that's an amazing example of efficiency. So as a CFO, would you consider yourself to be ahead of the curve in terms of implementing the most modern tech for accounting processes? In other words, are you an early adapter or do you prefer to implement tools only once they've been proven out by others?

Aneal - 00:25:31: There's balance. There's balance. So definitely when it comes to money movement. I've always generally erred on the side of being conservative. That's why, you know, having a customer, you know, of the Airbase, you have the confidence that we move money for 100 roughly public companies plus and businesses that are as large as 8, 9, 10,000 employees and billions of dollars annually. And so you have the confidence knowing that your funds as they're moving through our platform are as secure as possible. So sometimes early players that necessarily can't solve your needs when you're, call it, 2,000 employees, but can solve your needs when you're 20 employees, may not have as robust processes. That's where you have to find that balance when it comes to the type of partner you want to help move money and handle payments. Now, when it comes to other things, like, as I mentioned, I kind of geek out over data analytics and data mapping and connecting the right core systems. I've taken some early bets on tools that my biz ops and data teams have come to me with. And that's because I felt like they were helping solve an acute pain point that nobody else was. When I came to Airbase, the company thought that Salesforce was the data source. Well, in reality, Salesforce is a data source, just like Marketo is a data source. Zendesk is a data source. NetSuite is a data source. Catalyst is a data source. Your production warehouse is a data source. And so what we had to do is actually put in place a central data warehouse with Snowflake and then homogenize all that data, get it into the form you want. And then there was a whole bunch of really cool tools that had come out, one called DBT, which helps transform that data. And another one, as an example, called Hightouch, which actually takes that data that you just transformed and then re-enriches it back into Salesforce, back into Catalyst, back into Marketo, as an example. And so what does that mean? By taking an early bet on Hightouch, we were able to take all of this called Centralized Data, meaning you've now combined the closed opportunity that happens with a customer from Salesforce in your data warehouse. Coupled with the fact that the customer has paid their bill for NetSuite, and you can actually push that the customer has paid the bill in NetSuite back into Salesforce. That means that your CSM knows the customer, that could be a way to score the customer health, right? If the customer hasn't paid the bill, you've got to dock that customer health a little bit. When you can take a bet on some of these solutions and parts of your tech stack, there's definitely a case for winning. And some of these vendors do it for a really favorable price while they're trying to gain adoption. I wouldn't say that, I think it varies, right? Depending on, do you consider yourself an early adopter or not? I think it's a risk versus reward thing.

Megan - 00:28:29: And do you feel that the modern CFO needs to be something of an expert on the technology landscape and where it's heading? And how can we stay ahead of this curve?

Aneal - 00:28:40: I think that, I wouldn't even say modern CFO. I would say the modern executive has to care deeply about how we can leverage data and analytics to drive the company forward. I think what we've seen over the last 10 years is the CFO also being seen as the shared resource that can help manage some of these systems and data and business operations transformations. And that's because oftentimes as a CFO, we call it the central hub for reporting. So the data needs to be right in order for us to be able to report a metric. And since we call it Swiss across many of these teams, We're just trying to seek the right definition for the company. So before you can go report something, you need to define what you want to report. So example, what's an MQL, marketing qualified lead? What's an SQL, sales qualified lead? How do you define that? What's an active customer? What's a churned customer? All of these definitions are important because then you can start to figure out the data feeds that you need for them, the cleanliness of the data, and then subsequently how you can report on it. I think it takes a leadership team to buy into it. That was one of the conversations I had with Thejo before I joined this company and aligned with him. Look, do you care about these things? And he deeply did, right? And it mattered to me because it's not the things I'm describing don't happen in one quarter and then they're done. You're always evolving as a business in terms of how you can leverage data to drive insights for prospects or existing customers.

Megan - 00:30:18: Within Airbase, you mentioned data warehousing, but is the data shared across the organization or so that employees can use it and self-service what their needs are? Or is it kind of kept within finance and accounting where people know what to do with the data?

Aneal - 00:30:38: It is not kept within finance and accounting. Otherwise, it would be a waste of an investment if it was only leveraged by us. What happens is a longer conversation, but there's the idea of central data teams versus distributed data teams. And we kind of run a bit of a hybrid here. And what that means is that, the central data team really cares about how to plug these systems together to make them work appropriately, and to be able to get the type of reporting we want out of them. The central team also plays a role in terms of the form of reporting. Do we want to use Tableau for reporting? Or are you going to actually use Salesforce for reporting for this? Then we have some teams like in sales ops and marketing operations, they do play a role with their source system. So source system like Salesforce, the source system like Marketo, they play a role in making the tweaks necessary there to be able to get the things they want out of it. So my point is that if all of this investment, all this time you spent is just to drive finances, thinking it's a waste of investment, it needs to be used by product managers, CS, sales, marketing, demand gen, every single part of the company in order to make sure that we are driving the company forward as fast as possible based off of the most accurate strategic decisions.

Megan - 00:31:58: Sounds like you guys are definitely ahead of the curve, not only with your product, but also with your use of technology and data. I would guess that you guys are definitely ahead of the curve.

Aneal - 00:32:11: Yeah, I mean, I think there's a lot of folks in finance and operations that are doing great things in data. I'd like to say that we're always trying to find a way to be efficient with it. Because there's a balance. You can kind of go crazy with this stuff and start to invest too much based on company stage. What are there things that I would like to do better than where we are today? Definitely. But we have to be stage appropriate as well. And so that's where you start finding that balance. And so central, as I mentioned, the central data concept versus distributed data concept and how it's managed often does depend on the stage of the business. And like I mentioned, that's why it's always so bold.

Megan - 00:32:52: And last question for you, Aneal but what is it that keeps you up at night, if anything? As you look out into the future, is there anything you're worried about?

Aneal - 00:33:03: Oftentimes as finance leaders, You're burdened with... The need to have foresight. Our job is to think 36 months in advance plus. Because our job is to make sure the company is sustainable and viable as a long-term business. And so oftentimes the curse, the burden of looking that far out is that there's many factors that can impact the company. So I wouldn't say that there's anything that I'm afraid of or that keeps me awake. I would say that there are things that we can control with the future performance of our business. And there's things we can't control. I sure hope that we're being realistic with ourselves and calling out the risks with the things that we can control. And I know we also are transparent with our board with things we can't. So I'm not afraid of anything. I just know that there are things that I can help do, we can help do as a leadership team and as a company and every employee here at Airbase to de-risk the future outcome for this business. And those are the things we're ruthlessly prioritizing. Which is why I'm not worried about that. There's other things that we can't control, but... If those things are impacted, there's going to be a whole host of companies that are having issues. That makes sense.

Megan - 00:34:22: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for sharing. And thank you so much for being my guest today.

Aneal - 00:34:28: Thank you for having me. It was wonderful.

Megan - 00:34:30: Yeah, I really enjoyed speaking with you. And thanks for finding the time to be here with us to share your experience and knowledge. And I wish you and Airbase all the best. Sounds like you're both doing some amazing things.

Aneal - 00:34:41: Thank you so much, Aneal. Nice chatting.

Megan - 00:34:43: And to all of our listeners, please tune in next week. And until then, take care.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How financial technology drives value and efficiency

  • The role of analytics and AI in finance

  • Streamlining accounting processes

  • What the role of the modern CFO entails

Key Takeaways:

How Strategic Technology Investments Drive Value and Efficiency

Embracing modern technology while safeguarding cash flow is crucial. Aneal highlights the importance of clear investment motivation, including both hard and soft dollar savings. For instance, switching from ACH to virtual card payments offers direct cost savings and reduces the time staff spend on payment processes. Additionally, Aneal stresses how Airbase's focus on value metrics across its services has improved client operations and satisfaction.

how technology drives value Quote

“As we were starting to service larger and larger customers, it wasn't enough to provide a software solution that was delighting our customers and end users. We also need to be able to give our champions the ability to understand how we can drive their careers and make their finance work a better version of itself.” According to Vallurupalli. - 10:18 - 14:45

AI-Powered Strategies of the Tech-Savvy CFO

AI and automation are not stand-alone solutions but rather integral components that enhance efficiency and innovation within a company's ecosystem. However, AI has the potential to streamline operations without overshadowing other essential development areas. The technology augments, rather than replaces, the strategic decision-making processes in finance and accounting. While AI will help simplify finance tasks, we must acknowledge its current limitations in replacing strategic decision-making.

Aneal Vallurupalli Airbase CFO Quote

“The day is coming when AI is going to make our lives and finances easier. But I have not yet seen the ability of AI to make informed and strategic long-term decisions.” Vallurupalli said. - 14:46 - 17:48

Merging Innovation and Security in Finance

Aneal highlights the importance of balancing innovation with caution in financial operations, stressing the need for secure, reliable systems when managing significant financial transactions for large companies. He also shares his enthusiasm for leveraging data analytics and integrating various data sources to streamline operations and make informed decisions. Additionally, Aneal believes that modern executives, including CFOs, must be proficient at navigating the tech landscape to harness data analytics for strategic growth.

Quote Tech savvy CFO merging innovation and security

“I would say the modern executive has to care deeply about how we can leverage data and analytics to drive the company.” Vallurupalli Claimed. - 26:00 - 31:10

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In the ever-evolving world of finance, Tech-Savvy CFOs are driving change through innovation and AI, highlighting technology's role in delivering value and ensuring security.

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