Cisco Systems' treasury department won an Alexander Hamilton Overall Excellence award last year for devising ways to use its intranet to do more with less. Its site allows authorized employees to initiate their own wire transfers, access stock-option accounts and educate themselves on buy-versus-lease decisions, among other things. With the Internet networking company now laying off 8,500 employees, including a few in finance, the project is being put to the test. We asked Cisco Treasurer David Holland to discuss his current and future challenges.

"I see the biggest challenge now as trying to integrate our systems initiatives with external providers and their initiatives," says Holland. "We have been working with individual institutions, but we want to find bodies or groups that represent more than one institution." It's already happening in the foreign-exchange arena, with online trading platforms like FXall and Atriax, each of which has many banks and corporations as participants. But Holland says standards must be developed with vendors in other disciplines so that cash management, risk management and liquidity management practitioners can take full advantage of the benefits offered by the Web.

"I think what we are going to see in five years' time is a much stronger linkage between what we do and what financial institutions do," he says. "There will be opportunities for outsourcing and for sharing processes that we do ourselves, in a sort of best-practices exchange. But there are no common sets of systems yet."

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