CFOs: Get Ready For Instant Boardroom Insight

Colin Sampson

Successful businesses have a need for speed. To outrun competitors, decision makers want faster results, quicker access to data, and rapid answers to all of their questions. And the boardroom is no different.

Board members and executives like CFOs and COOs expect prompt information about everything from revenues to headcount and products to customers. Yet the most effective board meetings generate additional questions, some of which cannot be answered by prepared presentations or reports.

When the information isn’t on hand, knowledge is delayed. On the boards where I serve, the financial team often promises to research the issue and deliver answers within a few days. It’s not the ideal response, but it certainly is a common one.

But in this high-velocity economy, that kind of delay doesn’t cut it. At SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP co-founder and chairman Hasso Plattner made it clear:“We cannot solve these problems with green-and-white-striped lists anymore. We cannot do this [by] flipping through hundreds of pages. We need people to be in one room and talk to each other with real facts, not PowerPoints.”

Coming soon: the boardroom of the future

Executives and board members need a new way to interact with data and analyze issues in the moment. They want to be able to dig down into the data, visualize details, and predict what may happen next – right away, not a week from now. And if the first round of answers stimulates additional ideas, they want to ask more questions and instantly hear those responses.

That’s the boardroom of the future, and it’s a little closer than you may think. New technology solutions are about to bring real-time data, intuitive visualizations, and powerful predictive analytics to the fingertips of board members and executives alike.

Sneak peek: the digital boardroom

The SAP board of directors recently began testing this technology in board meetings, and the results are striking. We call it our digital boardroom. Attendees see agenda items appear on giant touch screens. When executives ask questions, presenters can click on different areas of the screens and then dig for detail, display historical information, change parameters, and update results with current data.

The solution allows users to display line-item data, slicing and dicing it according to various dimensions. Users can filter data, change criteria, and update the entire view in real time, using data from operational systems. They can also use a powerful predictive analytics engine to show the future – replete with dependencies and correlations.

I’ve demonstrated the digital boardroom solution to companies, and executives are excited about the value it can deliver. By supporting real-time, fact-based management, this digital boardroom technology will create massive change in how companies use information to accelerate the success of their businesses.

Stay tuned. As additional details become available, we’ll continue the discussion about how this innovative technology can deliver insight that helps companies thrive in the digital economy.

To learn more about how finance executives can empower themselves with the right tools and play a vital role in business innovation and value chain, review the finance content hub, which offers additional research and valuable insights.

Colin Sampson

About Colin Sampson

Colin Sampson is the senior vice president and SAP Ambassador for the Asia-Pacific and Japan region, and a former regional CFO for SAP. He is responsible for building long-term relationships with strategic and key customers across the region.