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How can finance teams make the most from investment in Business Intelligence?

by Mike Jones in Other Cat 07/10/2020

As the finance industry realises the potential of data analytics, investment in business intelligence tools continues to rise. One challenge is ensuring analysts are provided with enough time to utilise the full potential of these services and not bombarded with other business-related activities. 

A lack of structure can lead to a disjointed approach to data management and result in inefficient use of time, money and resources. Businesses need to ensure they maximise their investments into business intelligence tools. 

Nearly every company has some version of a business intelligence solution, however, many analysts spend a large portion of their time on data preparation and other activities. In finance, businesses depend on accurate data to deliver reliable and intelligent business decisions. Financial analysts are actively looking to utilise this data appropriately, yet some challenges can affect their ability to use and manage the information collected promptly.

While an organisation may employ the right people, have the correct structures and goals in place to deliver data-driven strategies, they may fail to utilise the full value available within this data. Studies emphasise this further, suggesting that BI tools are well-resourced, but are not being used to their full potential. Findings suggest organisations could be potentially wasting their investments, with a large proportion of data analysts believing they have clear methods of improving company profits but lack the time to implement more strategic plans.

One of the biggest challenges on the productivity of an analyst is the time allocated to accessing disparate data sets. It may be a relatively easy process, it is known to take a large proportion of an analyst’s time. Other reports have suggested that a large proportion of analysts have found that the data sources they require to do their jobs effectively are often inaccessible, broken or only available on an intermittent basis.

Inaccurate data sources can lead to delays and bigger impacts on the business. Delays in the process can result in analysts using reports and making decisions based on dated information. In the current climate, a time of unpredictability and constant change, it isn’t efficient and possibly risky to be using dated financial data as the tool for making accurate plans.

Determining data from multiple sources

Data analysts use several data sources which can be challenging, particularly when a business is continuously updating their operational and management focus. Schema updates are often implemented by analysts which do improve reporting accuracy and decision making, but these changes result in further time and often delays the entire process.

To enable finance times to spend more time on analysis and less time on data preparation, businesses should re-evaluate their data systems. By applying automation to selective processes, businesses can eliminate a large number of the barriers data analysts experience today. The information can then be replicated, transformed and embedded into one data set and used to make data-focused decisions.

The surge of BI tools in business is positive, but the disjointed approach towards data analytics makes it difficult for financial teams to get the most out of the BI tools available to them. Studies clearly show that the technology and professionals using the tools are not being utilised to the full effect. Instead of looking to increase the number of data analysts in your team, a business should focus on how it can combine multiple sources of data and look to improve data access and management processes. Once access to real-time data is made simple, data analysts can extract all of the data value from BI tools to ensure their business remains competitive and customer experience stays high.