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

How CFOs can develop a smarter business strategy through analytics and insight

Data-driven insights are a game-changer in the way businesses operate. CFOs are delivering insights that shape strategy and empower their people to make better decisions. Finance Director Europe finds out how data-led insight has become the most valuable corporate currency.


he digital revolution has generated many new benefits for businesses. As organisations become more connected, internally and externally, they are able to tap into wider sources of data for greater depth and nuance, and can store, analyse and aggregate data to power predictive and prescriptive analytics. Across a range of applications, from real-time supply chain monitoring to sentiment analysis, businesses can now get a view of their customer and operational trends in order to deliver hyper- personalised offerings and slicker user experiences. In short, businesses can now make more data-led decisions with CFOs leading the way. Any CFOs determined to reach that point will recognise the challenges: siloes between functions need to be broken down and collaboration must improve – with feedback delivered quicker and more accurately to underpin strategic decisions with real rigour. Achieve that, and the benefits – from better customer experiences to more efficient cash management and sustainable growth – will come into view.

Creating synergy

“The big shift during the pandemic has been a greater focus on improving forecasts and prescriptive insights – everything in finance’s transformation journey is working towards that,” says Vivek Saxena, who points to the removal of barriers between functions as a vital element in driving improvements in forecasting and other modelling functions. “Rather than input coming from business functions and finance trying to interpret it, now finance can get a genuine conversation going where insight is shared between functions,” he says. So, what do these new data-led insights deliver across the business more

Finance Director Europe /

broadly? “When they become an integral part of operations, finance will be able to provide the business with better insight on demand,” says Saxena. “We see many other functions complain about having to wait until the end of the month for that, but if you can shorten the length of that cycle then business partnering will inevitably improve.” “Leading finance functions are focused on making data intelligent,” he says, pointing to better collaboration, faster, better decisions, value creation, innovation and growth within the business, as well as an improvement in the quality of forecasts and risk modelling. “And it should also – with the right approach – begin to improve integration and communication with suppliers, vendors and partners,” says Saxena.

“Running data analytics applications empowers finance teams. These teams will change shape and focus – they will understand their business segments better and they will combine knowledge of past events with a keen eye on future trends.” Saxena’s view is simple: CFOs must understand the past and present to predict the future. This is where machine-based forecasting is coming to the fore. But he emphasises that technology alone can only process data faster, it can’t interpret it. This is why organisations still need their finance experts with an understanding of the business and industry to clarify how the forecasts will impact the business.

Intelligent decisions

Ed Fitzpatrick believes that to harness the transformative power of analytics, first organisations must consolidate, organise and make sense of data and then provide dashboards with insights that people can use to make more informed decisions.


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