The role of finance, and in particular the role of the CFO, has rapidly evolved with the rise of the digital enterprise. Traditionally, the financial function was charged with protecting enterprise assets by maintaining accurate books and guarding against financial risk. That role has expanded to include providing insight and direction for decision making across the company’s functional and market-facing areas, as well as becoming an increasingly key player in shaping corporate strategy.
In finance, as with the enterprise at large, analytics are rapidly coming to the fore. In a recent report, Deloitte notes the pace of its expansion across the enterprise:
“As little as a year ago, you would be hard-pressed to find an organization that was making enterprise-level analytics investments. Instead, most were just working to implement or improve targeted analytics capabilities in a few key areas – which seemed to be enough of a challenge. Today, building on analytics successes in discrete disciplines, leaders are beginning to take serious steps toward connecting these successes to create something bigger – something we call the insight-driven organization (IDO). The IDO goes beyond the selective use of insights to fuel decision-making in individual parts of the business. It deploys a tightly knitted combination of strategy, people, processes, and data – in addition to technology – to deliver insights at the point of action every day, everywhere in the organization.”
This enterprise-wide access and application requires the need for self-service tools (without the need of IT intervention) in terms of predictive analytics that give more company stakeholders the right information at the right time to make the right decision. By delivering governed access to data, these flexible, easy-to-use tools empower business users to generate their own insights independently through predictive analytics and scenario analysis.
For CFOs and other executive management, analytics help solve a key challenge: linking strategy and execution. Connecting planning, forecasting, reporting, and performance management across the enterprise is a daunting task.
A flexible planning model that integrates the financial plan with operational plans increases the accuracy of results. Overall, this enhances the ability of the CFO, as well as the executive team, to align the operational and strategic objectives: