Do controllers need to reinvent themselves? Do computers make better controllers? And how are companies like SAP or ENBW changing their planning processes?
The topics at this year’s WHU Campus for Controlling reflected an issue that is currently high on the agenda for practitioners and academics: the transformation of controlling. In light of this, Professor Jürgen Weber used data from the WHU Controller Panel to reveal that controlling has undergone a significant change in the last ten years, which has largely been driven by developments in IT. Professor Utz Schäffer echoed these remarks and sketched an impressive picture of the changes accompanying the digitalization of the business world that will have a major impact on the future of controlling.
The guest speakers also addressed the issue of change. Frank H. Lutz, CFO of Covestro AG, described how his company mastered the carve-out from the Bayer group. Wolfgang Jany, Head of Controlling CoE Master Data at SAP, and Dr. Oliver Strangfeld, Head of Controlling Erzeugung Nuklear at EnBW, both spoke on their new planning processes. Finally, neuroscientist Dr. Henning Beck posed the question of whether controllers can be replaced by computers. He explained that the brain is based on its imperfections, and innovations are dependent on errors in the system.
The key message conveyed by all Campus presentations is that in order to cope with the forthcoming changes, controlling itself must be capable of change, must allow innovation, and should always question the status quo. Fixed processes are not compatible with major changes. If controlling is to be capable of change, it requires an intelligent interaction of analytics and intuition, a watchful eye for necessary adjustments, an open communication culture, and critical questioning. It won’t be boring!