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By Mario Spanicciati, Chief Strategy Officer at leading finance controls and automation softwareprovider BlackLine

We recently reported more than 100% year over year growth in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) for our second quarter 2015 and we’re proud to add big names like Credit Agricole and the estate agents Savills to the list of customers using BlackLine’s Cloud-based tools to automate and accelerate the financial close and other key accounting and finance processes.

Leading companies of all sizes are now integrating finance controls and automation solutions as part of their efforts to transform legacy, back-office operations into world-class, Modern Finance organisations. When we conducted research with 250 executives responsible for financial management last year, over a third (38%) said that automation would be a key focus for 2015 and we’re seeing that played out.

Automation software provides finance teams with the opportunity to take a more strategic role in business. Investing resources in automation streamlines back-office processes and gives accountants more time to impact front-office decision-making. This has multiple benefits; not only does it increase data security and provide more actionable information to a company’s lines of business, it also improves life at the accountancy coalface, with the potential to impact staff retention.While doing so, organisations remain competitive, reduce risk and costs and upgrade accounting systems to the ‘Modern Finance’ way of accounting.

Earlier this year, we kicked off the ‘Modern Finance Tour’, with a series of seminars designed to demonstrate how finance and accounting professionals can leverage cloud-based tools to automate and optimise critical processes. Following the success of events in the United States and APAC, we decided to add an EMEA leg to the world tour of more than 45 cities, including dates in London, Manchester, Paris and Dublin.

BlackLine was created to automate highly repetitive, manual accounting and finance tasks—tying up all the loose ends to liberate accountants to apply their talents to more strategic pursuits.  The company’s introduction of pioneering account reconciliation software in 2004 signified the development of an entirely new category of business technology, one virtually eliminating the inefficiency and risk inherent in the previously manual, spreadsheet-based process, while offering visibility into the underlying financial data.

Since then, we have added many new automated functions to the cloud-based technology platform, many based on input from the company’s enterprise-level and mid-market customers.  Our unified platform comprises a variety of packaged solutions and key enabling technologies efficiently addressing multiple Finance & Accounting needs. The enormous amount of time accountants previously invested in manual exercises can now be reinvested in value-added activities, ensuring data transparency, enhanced controls and the integrity of data for reporting and compliance purposes.

In addition to strong growth in our customer base in the UK and in Europe, BlackLine has also quadrupled its headcount in the past few years, adding jobs in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Malaysia and Australia and we are on track to open additional European and Asian offices next year.

We have also made the Software 500 list of the world’s “largest and best-performing” software companies for the past four years, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ for the past five years and the prestigious Inc. 500/5000 for the past eight years in a row, joining the ranks of such companies as Jamba Juice, Microsoft and Patagonia.

We recently announced the appointment of Graham Smith, former Salesforce.com CFO, to the BlackLine Board. Drawing on his experience serving in senior finance leadership roles at several leading technology companies and helping build Salesforce into the de facto leader in its space, the seasoned finance professional and cloud software veteran will help guide us through the next phase of growth. We’re looking forward to it.