Technology and Data News and Events

How finance leaders are tackling the insight challenge

by Mike Jones in Digital Technology 27/07/2022

Terrance Wampler, the general manager of WorkDay, describes some of the biggest challenges in finance and how businesses can create added value.

Data represents the core of modern businesses. The main goal for most is creating a reliable data source and utilising this information to improve performance. Achieving this is challenging, especially with the volume of data we generate today. The World Economic Forum predicts that the data generated will exceed 463 exabytes daily worldwide by 2025.

The fact is the majority of value created from information comes from intangible assets, most of which aren’t recorded on finance balance sheets. This can include customer relationships to social and intellectual capital. The importance of intangibles has increased considerably over the last few years, but finding a trusted source of data has become harder than ever as companies face multiple sources, both internal and external.
The expectations of a CFO have also changed, and CFOs require the necessary data, technology and people to generate new channels of value. Traditional systems predominantly focus on tracking value rather than creating it. Legacy systems aren’t configured to examine intangible value drivers, and so the data created makes it challenging for CFOs to meet these new expectations.

One case study of a business facing these challenges is US broadcaster, the EW Scripps company. The company experienced a major transformation, requiring a technology upgrade intended to improve the integration of finance and HR. WorkDay applied its service to digitise the HR operations, and Scripps added WorkDay financial management and Prism Analytics to unify their financial and HR data. Scripps removed multiple system interfaces, making it simpler to access and examine information. The finance team can spend more time on analytics, reporting and forecasting rather than focusing too much time on basic financial activities. Vagelis Kontopos, the VP of financial planning and analysis at Scripps, explains that Workday has provided the data and insights to guide the business strategically, especially during disruptive times. Applying a common platform for all divisions has reduced the monthly reporting time to just a few seconds, enabling rapid and frequent delivery of real-time reports, forecasts and budget updates.

This is a fine example of a business that has transitioned from using technology to measure value to shifting to a position to find value from its data. Creating a trusted data source is critical to generating successful value creation. Businesses require their data to be a single-source, accurate and realistic version of the truth. Once this is achieved, businesses can generate valuable insights and improve business performance, including the most profitable drivers and where to allocate capital to get the best return on investment.

In today’s digital economy, businesses need to consider their data as an opportunity for creating business value, rather than just an asset used to track progress. To achieve this, it’s important to create a trusted source of data, as shown by the previous example. With the appropriate technology, finance can shift from tracking value to creating value, supported with the relevant insights to determine and respond to events, the flexibility to adapt and harness opportunities and the talent to support this transformation.