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Technology

A Letter From Vice Chair of the CFIT SMB Subcommittee Chris Loy

As I fly from DFW to CLT for a quarterly meeting of the Committee on Finance and Information Technology (CFIT), I reflect on the way technology has transformed my entire travel experience. I booked my trip, chose my seats (and even my meal), and checked-in online. TSA already knows who I am because of the application process I went through for Global Entry but, if they didn’t, they would undoubtedly be using artificial intelligence (AI) in to determine if I represented a risk. When I boarded the plane, my boarding pass was scanned and verified electronically.

I’m old enough to remember calling to make flight reservations, receiving a paper ticket in the mail, and checking-in by waiting in line to talk to a human. There was no security check like we have today. Clearly, those days are gone forever.

This airplane is largely flown by an autopilot system which both relieves the pilots of the tedium of flying straight and level for hours and makes flying safer because of the checks built into these systems. There are even planes that can land themselves, as I experienced recently in Denver when the fog was so thick that you could barely see the ground from your window.

An unfortunate side-effect is that pilots must now work harder to maintain their hand-flying proficiency (or “stick and rudder” skills), especially to respond to system failures or in cases of emergency. Like many things technology-related, there are often unintended side-effects. When I arrive in Charlotte, I will summon a ride to the hotel on my mobile phone and, if I chose to, could even check-into and unlock my room via my mobile phone.

Technology is becoming increasingly pervasive in our business and personal lives. This is the essence of CFIT’s mission: to keep our members on top of the ever-changing landscape of technology—how it can affect their organizations and how it can be used to create competitive advantage. Without a doubt, it’s an exciting challenge.

I serve on CFIT as both a member and Vice-Chair of the Small/Medium Business (SMB) Subcommittee. For SMB organizations like mine it’s an even greater challenge because we are often on the trailing edge of technology. We simply don’t have the resources that larger companies have to be early adopters of emerging technologies. But, most technologies have a predictable life-cycle of adoption. As such, my fellow subcommittee members and I spend much of our time trying to help SMB members of FEI (which represent a significant portion of FEI membership) understand which technologies to consider and when it is becoming practical to do so.

If you’re still reading this, then I hope you are either already aware of the CFIT SMB subcommittee or you learned something new today. Either way, I invite you get informed by looking for CFIT articles and podcasts targeted at SMB members, and get involved in the dialogue through FEIconnect. We have a large peer group of SMB organizations that are navigating the same waters and there is strength in numbers if we share our experiences.

It’s an exciting time for finance teams as we help lead organizational transformation through technology. My goal is to help our SMB members compete successfully through the effective use of technology. I hope you will join me in that cause.

Click here to learn more about FEI's Finance and Information Technology Committee.  Please contact Marisa Peacock, FEI Manager of Technical Activities at 973-765-1007 with any questions.

Chris Loy is the Chief Financial Officer at Alpine Silica.