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Editorial: Everything that can be automated looks like this: Levi Strauss CFO

Levi Strauss & Co, San Francisco, CA, April 9, 2021. A signboard is posted in front of the head office.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The role of Chief Financial Officer extends far beyond traditional finance. A significant need for companies to build for the digital future, driven by consumers whose digital tastes continue to accelerate, is adding a new technological mission to CFOs in all industries. Today, CFOs are responsible for allocating resources to build a powerful digital foundation. Defend the right talent and organizational structure to implement digital goals. Testing before rapidly scaling value-creating technologies such as data visualization, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Relentlessly measure while communicating the created shareholder value.

As a cross-functional C Suite executive, the CFO works with C Suite colleagues to define and communicate how digital transformation creates value for sustainable profitability. We are restructuring and refocusing our business.

As CFO of a company with a history of 168 years Levi Strauss & Company, I’m always working with my colleagues to identify ways to do things better, faster and more efficiently using new technologies and efficient business processes. Having your CIO and ERP team report will ensure that resources are allocated to automation and digitization of processes throughout your organization. By actively investing in digital tools such as robotics and AI capabilities as you test and scale them across your enterprise, you can open up real growth opportunities and ultimately move your business forward.

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October 13, Michael Dell, Ray Dalio, Cathy Bessant, Chief Financial Officer of Bank of America, Marcelo Claure, Executive Chairman of WeWork, Levi Strauss & Co. Harmit Singh, CFO of Estee Lauder, and Tracey Travis, CFO of Estee Lauder, will talk about building a resilient future and more. Register now.

Here’s my advice to other CFOs trying to understand their role in leading and pursuing successful digital transformation as more companies embark on their own digital journey.

Build unity

In order for true digital transformation to take hold and prove to be beneficial in the long run, companies need to start with a solid plan and build the right digital foundation. The CFO works with colleagues in the C Suite to think comprehensively about the entire organization and implement technology systems at the core of operations to enable simplified, standardized, and integrated processes across all teams in the enterprise. is needed.

Although relatively outdated, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are still the lifeline of an enterprise. These systems have been modernized for decades to accommodate orbiting technology, but they have been used with pricing systems, operations, supply chain management systems, and all other aspects of the organization. It is the CFO that ensures integration. These are one of the foundations for a successful digital transformation. My role is to work with the ERP team to help employees and customers make data-driven decisions using real-time business insights, simplifying their work, rather than making this digital transformation a pure technological change. To be able to do it. Ultimately, it will accelerate market share growth and profitability.

Investing in technology is often intimidating. Returns are not overnight, so it is difficult to justify the cost.

Our own digital transformation begins with a dedicated team of both business and technology talents upgrading to a cloud-based ERP platform, leading wholesale, directly across all sales channels and regions around the world. Increased visibility of sales and manufacturing data. In addition to defining processes and configuring the platform to provide these processes across order management, inventory management, and omni-channel allocation, a single global financial recording system significantly improves operational efficiency. The way you do business will change radically. It’s worth changing the game.

Champion technician

Building a culture of innovation with the right global and diverse teams to create, implement and manage these platforms and new technologies is just as important. We live in times when it is difficult to secure talent, especially technicians, and we are competing with companies across industries. But while there are great global talents to hire, there are also great talents to build.

At Levi Strauss, we are focused on fostering an innovation culture for the entire enterprise and investing in the best people in the retail industry. Our employees are the main driving force for our digital transformation and the best driving force for building the future of our company. We have embarked on a company-wide digital skill-up initiative to enable employees to learn and practice the skill sets needed to achieve digital transformation from within. Digitally savvy employees need to live across all departments, including finance. We have also established a global capacity center that not only hires people closer to consumers, but also builds diverse talent teams.

Similarly, it is important to create programs, initiatives and spaces for innovation, and it is the responsibility of the C Suite to defend these opportunities. For me, I’m proud to play my part and sponsor the ongoing hackathon series. By bringing together employees to jointly solve problems in a short period of time, we are creating a powerful engine for generating ideas to better serve consumers. The 2021 hackathon event brought together 35 teams from 11 countries to share ideas and contribute to the digital future. The top three teams presented the funding business case to the executive team. The executive team was able to decide on ideas to take to the next level. From chatbots to self-checkouts, the resulting software solutions presented at the hackathon impact your business.

Make automation friends

Everything that can be automated needs to be automated. As CFOs, we always have to remember that and encourage our team to do the same. Our team should not spend hours entering data from one system to another, updating spreadsheets, or copying datasets. Instead, you need to free your employees from this tedious task and spend more time analyzing and solving more complex problems.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is becoming more popular in all industries as more and more companies understand how their technology can save 30-40% of the time normally spent on boring tasks. I have fulfilled my personal mission to tackle this within Levi Strauss. We look forward to seeing our organization open arms and adopting RPA. Created your own RPA Center of Excellence Team. The team is focused on finding automation opportunities and scaling automation across features within the organization, freeing up valuable resources and implementing a long-term digital first vision.

Investing in technology is often intimidating. Returns are not overnight, so it is difficult to justify the cost. But as a CFO, you need to help prioritize value-creating projects while balancing the underlying investments that accelerate digital transformation. These technologies unleash great business-wide potential, from saving operational costs to discovering new business opportunities and predicting areas of concern.

It’s never been so important for CFOs to realize that building for the digital future is paramount, especially as they continue to face challenges from pandemics and future plans. In an uncertain economic environment, it’s important to have up-to-date real-time data handy to make quick decisions about the strategic direction of your business.

As the CFO of a heritage-soaked brand, I’m excited about the future and what’s possible when we’re collectively devoted to digital transformation.

-NS Levi Strauss & Co. Harmit Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of CNBC Global CFO Council.

Editorial: Everything that can be automated looks like this: Levi Strauss CFO

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