An analytical perspective on how insights change the game for CFO's

Have you noticed this video on Financial Excellence? Have you really listened to what CFO’s and the Office of Finance mention as their biggest challenges? You should, since it is a very interesting discussion!

The top 3 biggest challenges CFO’s and the Office of Finance see for 2016 are:

  1. Given that business has changed by the Digital Transformation, how can they leverage this transformation? How can they make use of the “new data” they have access too?

  2. How can they execute on their new roles as business and strategic advisors

  3. How to develop talent in their finance organization

In this article I focus on the first two challenges. Not that developing talent for the financial organizations is less of a challenge. Not at all, it deserves all the CFO’s attention.

Technology readiness

Before we can comment on the mentioned challenges for CFO’s and Offices of Finance, we need to understand that technology has changed. Technology has now got to a point where they can really follow their business. In-memory platforms allow for hugely broadened scope of information our CFO’s have access too. In-memory platforms also allow for dramatically increased flexibility and accuracy – real time data insights – of data and information. Finally CFO’s can now go way deeper in data having real-time access to the lowest grain of data available.

Simply said, the information-landscape has changed the role of the CFO and his Office of Finance.

Leverage the Digital Transformation by utilizing business analytics

Now we have the technology that can handle the big volumes and complexity of data required, it allows CFO’s to embrace the change of Digital Transformation. The challenge in this embracement is of course how they can leverage Digital Transformation. CFO’s commonly mention that business analytics is their moderator to do so. Flexible and performant business analytics environments that integrate and interact with both corporate as new data. Business analytics environments that switch at a finger-click from corporate of helicopter-views, into a departmental or process-view; that can simulate and run what-if scenarios at any level.

The moderator mentioned by CFO’s are quite understandable, since business analytics provides them the required insights. Provides?? ….Yes, as long as: their business analytics is governed through its full stack of rolling planning, consolidations, managed reporting, managed dash boarding and self-service business intelligence. Governed data – also referred to as Trusted Data Discovery – is a definite prerequisite when our CFO’s need to value new data against their existing insights.

Execute on a new role as advisor: business analytics as the moderator

Business analytics capabilities, driven by the Digital Transformation, bring CFO’s and Offices of Finance also to a new role. They have now become business partners and strategic advisors of their companies. Their companies require this from them. It means CFO’s need to “explain” their data to the business; they need to tell their story to the business and explain how business needs to act and adjust upon their insights. CFO’s have become advisors on how to run the business.

For business analytics it means that CFO’s look for storytelling and interactive analytical functionality. Stories that can easily be distributed – governed of course – and are clear and understandable for the “receivers”. In the same sentence CFO’s ask for collaboration platforms; platforms that allow the receivers to communicate and interact on the CFO’s guidance.

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