CFOs anticipate the coming data deluge and are bracing for the storm

According to a global survey of 435 CFOs, a key challenge for finance teams is dealing with multiple sources of data beyond the general ledger that was traditionally managed. With three in ten CFOs having suggested that they manage data from five or more sources, the stakes for accurate and consistent data have been raised – so much so that 69 per cent of CFOs believed that keeping data siloed was one of the biggest financial mistakes that most companies make. 

Some 56 per cent of CFOs are of the belief that a culture of analytics is crucial when creating competitive advantage. In fact, this belief in technology is so strong, that only five per cent of CFOs foresee a decrease in finance technology investments over the next two years, while, alternately, technology investments were ranked as the second highest priority for driving value creation.

When asked about data, 65 per cent of CFOs cited “accuracy and integrity of the data itself” as the most or second most important characteristic of data. Coming in second with 42 per cent of the vote was “timeliness/shelf life of data”. 

“But this is just the beginning,” the report claimed. “CFOs recognise the coming data deluge and are bracing for the storm, as the majority of CFOs expect data to increase by up to 50 per cent over the next five years.”

Not only will the data volume increase, but the type of data CFOs must manage is increasing. While financial data is their domain, CFOs are increasingly being asked for non-financial data – namely human resources and sales data – by their CEOs.

“The highest performing firms rely on data to drive decisions,” the report said. “A single source of truth stops the debate over whose numbers are correct and refocuses the discussion on insights and action. Achieving a single source enables a consistent view of data across the organisation in real time, eliminates confusion among competing data sets, and encourages velocity of decision-making.“

Some 37 per cent said legacy technology was holding them back, while being too expensive, having too many data sources, and a lack of collaboration were all tied as the next biggest barriers cited by CFOs. 

However, no matter which barrier, CFOs do believe in driving toward that financial holy grail. While 38 per cent of CFOs said their firm had been able to achieve a single source of truth, another 45 per cent say it is in progress

“Faced with a challenging macroeconomic environment and the need to provide a more holistic view of the business, CFOs are increasingly becoming the ‘knowledge executive’ in the organisation,” said Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights. “As both the volume and sources of data increase, CFOs are working across departments, driving toward a single source of truth that gives them a more consistent, comprehensive view of the organisation in real time. This view will ultimately provide more accurate business insights and inform more effective business strategy.”

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