Geoff Soon (pictured), Managing Director, South Asia at Snowflake shares with FutureCFO audiences how data and data analytics can help CFOs become more effective leaders.
FutureCFO: How do data visualisation tools help CFOs with real-time performance data?
Geoff Soon (GS): Modern-day CFOs are expected to lead their organisations forward with analytics-guided decision-making, more efficient processes enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI), and data-guided workflows.
CFOs are also increasing the use of data analytics to predict new trends, or as compared to previous, just analysing current and previous trends. This ultimately leads to more informed business decision making.
Data visualisation tools are the graphical representation of information and data that can help CFOs with real-time performance data in the following ways:
- By evaluating their company's massive amount of historical data to understand its current and future health
- By tracking financial performance alongside sales and purchasing data
- Allows finance teams to produce user-friendly reports and other presentations that can be tailored to specific audiences
Data analytics can help overcome challenges surrounding the collection of data from multiple sources through combining data from existing financial solutions into a single, centralised source for analysis.
An important feature of data analytics is that it enables companies to determine how well they are likely to perform over time. Evaluating historical data alongside forward-looking financial statements can assemble a forecast that considers potential variations over time.
In addition, data visualisation can greatly improve the CFO’s ability to tell stories and communicate important messages about company performance, strategy, and prospects within and outside organisations.
FutureCFO: How can data help drive transparency and accountability throughout an organisation?
GS: It’s critical for an organisation's leadership team to be transparent and accountable by sharing valuable insights to increase participation, and open channels of communication within, and across organisations.
Business managers and finance staff should collaboratively define, develop, and apply finance analytics.
Decision teams with clear data governance roles and responsibilities can then brainstorm solutions and co-create more intuitive financial reporting formats.
The challenge is typically when there are data silos across the company which require data to be stored in a single, centralised location.
Only then can data analytics be performed effectively to provide visibility on the company’s situation that can be shared with the rest of the stakeholders in the company.
The data can be democratised between staff who may be based in different locations or in separate teams.
FutureCFO: How can data help CFOs unlock valuable insights to identify leads and guide business decisions?
GS: Many financial professionals would have struggled to collect data from multiple sources and perform the analysis required to answer questions about corporate financial performance.
Financial firms and teams collect vast amount of data for actionable insights, but it lives in disparate systems, and departmental silos. This data needs to be in a single platform.
The variety of data sources available to the CFO and finance teams has dramatically increased over the past five years.
As organisations digitise their supply chains and routes to markets, IoT and POS data are also now available. A company’s relationship with its customers can now be tracked via social media or web logs.
All of this additional data can then be applied to financial analysis in a wide variety of ways, such as, developing company goals and objectives, creating financial policy, evaluating economic trends, and more.
This gives CFOs, financial managers, accounting staff, and even purchasing managers reliable information they need to make informed critical decisions to monitor its business performance, ensure compliance with financial regulations, close the books correctly, and communicate value and risk issues to investors and boards.
FutureCFO: How can CFOs cut costs and prepare for economic uncertainty with data analytics and other emerging technology?
GS: Through data analytics, CFOs can gain competitive advantage by making informed decisions, minimise risk as well as gain productivity for employees and the business.
Overall, organisations should define specific business goals — and implementation strategies — up front to realise long-term value from analytics.