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The empowered enterprise: How CFOs are putting insight at the heart of a purpose and performance-driven business The power of data:


How CFOs can harness data to power better decision-making


Chief executives are increasingly looking to their CFO counterpart to develop the right kind of data strategy to help them make better decisions through insight. Luckily, the modern CFO has access to a set of technologies that previous generations would barely recognise – with so much data available, the opportunities to add value, collaborate, make better decisions, innovate and drive growth are almost unlimited. It’s vital to keeping a business on an even keel – and understanding the numbers and sharing the insights are surefi re ways of putting a fi rm on the path to success.


T


he value of data to any business is now perhaps greater than any single commodity. The ability to aggregate huge amounts of information and turn it into digestible and actionable insight is the biggest breakthrough in business since the birth of the computer.


And while accountants and those entrusted with steering an organisation’s finances have always relied on the collection and management of basic information, the volume and sophistication of data available has increased exponentially – to become a genuine driver of competitive advantage across all business sectors.


It allows the CFO to not only understand how underlying factors are driving business performance, but also, through the use of AI, machine learning, and cloud computing, to make more informed and predictive decisions based on rigorous, clear metrics.


standardising high-quality, well-governed data and understanding how it can support the agile and responsive business in its growth journey. In doing so, finance can become a key enabler in making sure the business has the right data and insight to drive better decisions.


In partnership with CDOs, CFOs face challenges to achieve this: the volume of data is ever-growing, there are disparate sources and types of data, while the availability, quality, standardisation of data demands a keen focus on where the business should direct its efforts.


“We’ve done a lot to try to simplify the data that we have available to analyse within the business. Like many businesses over the year, we have probably grown to have data dotted around the place.”


Andy Halford, CFO, Standard Chartered


The role of the data guardian By taking on the role of data guardian, the CFO is now more empowered to effect change. And an essential part of that role involves centralising and


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Instead of relying on other business functions to report on disparate sources of data, “we now have a situation where CFOs have a direct view of enterprise-wide-data and they can really get that data-to-insight-to-action loop working, explains Vivek Saxena, F&A service line leader at Genpact. “Insights are used to make better decisions and for the business to take action. But not only that, finance teams are now able to see if the data moved because of those actions – whether the insights led to the right actions and what are the learnings,” he says. “CFOs are much more informed about the end-to-end journey, which was not possible before. And the time it takes for finance to understand the consequences of its actions is now quicker and more efficient.” Many businesses are now entering a phase whereby data capture is running by default across business units. That means they can increasingly draw on a greater breadth of data sources. While work to improve internal streams of performance data has been ongoing for some time, many CFOs are looking outward to capture a broader range of metrics, from customer experience and sentiment to ESG-related measures that give a truer


Finance Director Europe / www.ns-businesshub.com


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