Data And Analytics Provide The Foundation For Finance Transformation

Estelle Lagorce

CFO Signals, Deloitte’s quarterly survey into what top finance executives are thinking and doing, has just been published for the third quarter of 2016 and as always, it makes extremely interesting reading.

One of the key findings of the report is that CFOs have rising concerns about the tenor and potential economic impact of geopolitics, especially in Europe and the U.S. It’s perhaps not surprising with a hard-fought, sometimes acrimonious election campaign taking place in the U.S., and the UK having voted to leave Europe.

Developing predictive algorithms and models

These days it seems the only certainty is uncertainty.

Perhaps that is why the report found that developing predictive algorithms and models is a top priority for 36% of CFOs. In fact, the whole area of data and analytics is a key part of the digital transformation that is taking place within the finance function – companies’ past and future investments centering on customer analytics and finance/accounting analytics.

It’s certainly an area that Arlen Shenkman, senior vice president and CFO, SAP North America, feels strongly about. In a recent interview with Financial Executives International Daily, he cited having a single data repository for all data, analytics, and security and compliance as the main technologies he sees influencing the finance function over the next three years.

“Having that repository of information and then having the ability to drill down into that information and to set up for yourself or for your management either KPIs or a dashboard, a way for you to be able to monitor what’s happening, can change the way you operate the business,” he said.

And that change, driven by real-time information, is fundamentally transforming finance and allowing it to take on a more strategic role. Real-time information is a key part of inverting the effort pyramid in finance, using technologies to eliminate confusion, delays, and inefficiencies across all areas and enabling CFOs to act more proactively. Thack Brown, GM and global head of Line of Business Finance at SAP, outlined those thoughts in a recent white paper,

“With a single source of the truth, finance departments can transact and analyze from the same source of data in real time,” he said. Combined with other technologies – such as cloud computing and robotics– this capability is allowing the automation of core processes and allowing a greater focus on advising the business on business strategy.

Implementing cloud platforms in finance

Another trend the report highlights is that cloud platforms are gaining momentum in finance. Cloud platforms are the only technology implemented by more than half of companies surveyed by Deloitte, and they have been implemented by nearly 80% of companies.

Nearly 50% of CFOs say they use this technology in a few areas, while just over 30% say they use it broadly. Another 12% say they are currently evaluating and/or piloting cloud platform technology.

Find out more

View the infographic from the Deloitte report.

View the full Deloitte report: CFO Signals™: 2016 Q3

Download the white paper Digital Finance: Transforming Finance for the Digital Economy.

Read Arlen Shenkman’s interview with Financial Executives International Daily.

About Estelle Lagorce

Estelle Lagorce is Senior Director, Global Partner Marketing, at SAP. She leads the global planning, successful implementation and business impact of integrated marketing programs with top global Strategic Partner across priority regions and countries (demand generation, thought leadership).