Editor’s Letter : The Great Enabler

Dear Reader

The impact of technology is everywhere. Indeed, there are few areas of a modern company where technology is not enabling rapid and profound change. Treasury and cash management, for example, is becoming so reliant on advanced software solutions that the line between the treasury and IT departments in many businesses is steadily blurring. In the process, treasury managers have found they can do far more for a business than simply keeping tabs on its finances. Risk management is another area that has been transformed by technology. In more enlightened companies, it has morphed from a corporate backwater into a strategic tool that a canny corporation can employ not simply to avoid potential pitfalls but to generateor at least enhanceprofits.

Technology is also enabling an unprecedented democratization of business. In our cover story this month we show how it is more feasible than ever for mid-size and even smaller companies to go global. Gone are the days when it was only giant companies that could afford to set up operations overseas. New technologies and a growing understanding of the techniques and infrastructure needed to manage a worldwide business are opening up opportunities for a much wider range of companies to join the international markets and truly go global.

At the same time, technology is enabling a much greater flow of information. Companies that do venture into new markets can be certain that their activities will be scrutinized not only by regulators but also by a swelling army of non-governmental organizations and self-appointed watchdogs that have access to an unprecedented level of detail about corporate activities around the globe. Of course, if they accept the increasingly widespread view that acting responsibly is good for business, they will have nothing to fear and everything to gain from this newly transparent business environment.

There is one sector that has benefited perhaps more than any other from the emergence of new, sophisticated technologies: the banks. In this months 20th Anniversary Spotlight we chart the extraordinary progress the investment banks in particular have made over the past two decades, bringing them to the point where they all but print money. The other multinational banks are in a similar position. Technology has helped them to such a great extent that there are barely enough superlatives to describe the success of these giantsas measured by their profits, at least. The banks critics, however, have no trouble choosing just one word: Shocking.

If the banks are to avoid a resentment-fueled backlash, they need to find a way to share some of the astonishing bounty they are amassing. If they can do that by employing the same degree of creativity they apply to making money in the first place, then, hopefully, everyone will be happy.

Until next month,

Dan Keeler