This year’s Fusion (May 8-11 in Orlando, FL) began with the announcement of the association’s name change from IAPP to the Institute of Financial Operations (IFO) – which was exciting news for everyone present at the conference. The conference then fulfilled on its promise to present thought-provoking sessions along with ample opportunity to network with AP and Shared Services professionals.

Here are some themes I heard rise to the surface throughout the four-day event:

    Tax & Compliance Issues: Numerous sessions and discussions were devoted to this topic. Attendees were looking not only for more understanding about regulations, but specific details on how to move from non-compliance to compliance. Two recurring examples were the changing landscape around the 1099 reporting laws and foreign citizen reporting.

    Automated, Comprehensive Statement Audits: PayStream Advisors & Lavante held a joint session presenting new research on Statement Audits as a Best Practice in Recovery Auditing, focused on the difference between traditional AP recovery audits and dedicated statement audits. The audience expressed great interest in innovative technology for statement auditing, as well as the resulting increased recovery dollars and vendor updates. Lavante’s booth was constantly filled with prospects wanting to learn more about our statement audit technology.

    Selecting & Deploying Innovative Technology: Not only were there sessions devoted to this subject, but considerable activity on the exhibit floor. I met with several Lavante customers attending the conference specifically to look for technology to help with invoicing and supplier management. The high interest in this topic was clearly demonstrated when the joint session led by Basware & Lavante, The Future of Accounts Payable: Improve Data, Improve Processes, Discover Technology had the highest attendance of any conference session (over 100, standing room only).

    Building a Strong, Motivated Team: Many sessions and considerable “buzz” was devoted to how to motivate and build a strong, successful AP team. I saw sessions and witnessed many hallway conversations that focused on cost-effective ways to reward and recognize internal staff in order to build the best, most productive team possible.

These are just some of the main themes that I picked up at the conference. I welcome feedback from others attending the conference about great sessions or themes you saw emerging.