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Working with CFOs to accelerate data integration into finance

by Mike Jones in Data Analytics, finance 14/04/2021

CFOs can often take a cautious approach to accept new technologies but data and analytics professionals can support them with really understanding the benefits of implementing these solutions into their business.

According to a study by Gartner, after a significantly disruptive year, CFOs seem to be prepared to invest in projects that enable the implementation of new analytics and automation technologies. There are two key reasons for this transformation:

-Looking specifically at finance, where analytics information on certain metrics is valuable, there is a demand for more innovative analytics to enhance performance.
-RPA technology is an automotive solution that eliminates manual tasks that can’t be integrated. Repetitive tasks can be a problem for finance, where a mix of various systems can be difficult to integrate.

While reports suggest that analytics and services like RPA are regarded as top priorities, there is also a level of the hesitancy of CFOs to invest in these new technologies. In the same survey by Gartner, nearly 80% of CFOs stated that they had some doubt they would reach their goals in advanced analytics and over 50% showed concern with reaching goals by implementing RPA.

These figures are a little concerning for the IT industry. The feelings in the finance department can influence other sections of a business. CFOs also hold a lot of control over which IT projects to implement and what tools to use in a business.

What are the key steps IT leaders can take to ensure that CFOs are supportive of analytics and other innovative digital projects?

Clear project success

Creating short term projects that have clear, achievable goals and returns on investment will demonstrate success and build confidence for the long-term implementation of new services.

Understand strengths and weaknesses of users

In terms of finance, the team require more analytics but it is relatively easy to get overwhelmed with all the information and lose sight of the bigger picture. For example, users can explore financial results, but yet still lack a clear understanding of key elements that influence the bottom line.

The customer service team may utilise analytics to explore which customers are satisfied. This is useful in determining customer attrition and predicting which groups are likely to be long-term customers. Similarly, manufacturing teams can use analytics to understand equipment downtime before it may happen, which maintains productivity and reduce expensive periods of downtime.

There are two examples of how analytics can influence financial health and highlight areas that may be overlooked. If IT teams can utilise these solutions with finance, CFOs would understand the real value and be more likely to accept these projects.

RPA isn’t the only technique available to reduce repetitive work

RPA isn’t the only way of eliminating repetitive work but represent one of the clearest ways for finance to understand the benefits of applying automation to its workload. Automation and eliminating repetitive work can happen in multiple areas of a business by applying automation technologies that differ from RPA.

This is somewhere where IT teams can present clear defined business cases, with an explanation of the technology and the resulting ROI from applying these solutions.

Why is this important?

The ultimate goal is to ensure the CFO is connected with how big data, analytics and automation can be applied in the company to generate better results and revenue. While there is always a level of risk and uncertainty with new projects, having the CFO and other business units in support and invested in the success of the project is a big step in enabling a successful implementation.