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Darren Talley3/8/19 7:19 AM4 min read

Leveraging Business Intelligence for Effective CFO Communication

Leveraging Business Intelligence for Effective CFO Communication

Today’s CFO faces new challenges. Rather than wondering how long a report will take to generate, you need to inform your company’s next steps. While a seat at the table may sound luxurious, you know that your ever-expanding role requires new tactics if you hope to thrive in it.

As we continue our series on the roles and evolution of the Modern CFO, we would today like to turn our attention to one of the key factors in your ascent—communication—and how business intelligence can make this a reality.

The Business Intelligence Imperative

A recent Forbes article explored the important analytics and business intelligence technologies for the coming year, finding that 82% of enterprises are prioritizing analytics and BI as part of their budgets for new technologies and cloud-based services. Knowing this, CFOs are placing high priority on specific elements of the business intelligence stack while looking to replace outdated technologies.

The Forbes article, which discussed a survey from Transforming Data with Intelligence (TDWI) is a global community of AI, analytics, data science and machine learning professionals interested in staying current in these and more technology areas as part of their professional development, found that among the top priorities at enterprises:

  • 54% say AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are also a high investment priority.
  • 50% of enterprises say their stronger focus on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) company-wide are a major driver of new investment in analytics and BI.
  • 43% plan to both build and buy AI and machine learning applications and platforms.
  • 42% are seeking to improve user experiences by automating discovery of data insights and 26% are using AI to provide user recommendations.
  • Data warehouse or mart in the cloud (41%), data lake in the cloud (39%) and BI platform in the cloud (38%) are the top three types of technologies enterprises are planning to use.

The Modern CFO: A Call to Communicate

Knowing how important Business Intelligence is for organizations, CFOs are among the ones leading the charge. Finance has moved from being the ‘no’ department to the one that seeks out new ways to empower business, and companies are doing more with the technology they have.

One key part of the financial evolution is the move away from spreadsheets and transaction processing to informing decisions with data. Too often, however, there is a language barrier between finance and business leadership—finance speaks in numbers and business in ideas; breaking down the communication barriers is imperative.

The Business-Finance Language Barrier

Today’s accountants must learn how to translate financial management information in a way that it can be understood and applied by everyone in an organization. That means that today’s financial professionals must not only automate but educate and communicate if they are to be valued contributors to organizational success.

Business Intelligence and ERP: Breaking the Communication Wall

In the TDWI study, enterprises responded that two of the top concerns when using business intelligence are creating and editing visualizations (60%), and personalizing dashboards and reports (also 60%). As you seek to educate others on the past, present, and future of the business, a platform’s ability to present data in a way people understand is driven by these two factors and empowered by a well-integrated ERP and business intelligence platform that can leverage a variety of sources to present it.

Three Steps to Communicate Financial Information with Non-Financial People

A recent Acumatica blog explored this imperative and discussed three key factors to make sure that everyone is on the same page—automate, educate, and communicate. Here’s how BI and ERP play into the equation:

  • Automate: With the right ERP solution and financial management software, many traditional accountant chores are already being reduced or eliminated by automating many of their tasks, freeing accountants to spend more time on education and communication.
  • Educate: As employees achieve career success and move up the organizational ladder, they are expected to understand and often interact with information. However, rarely are they provided with training in basic financial concepts, much less in specific financial management considerations that are relevant to their company. It’s impossible for these leaders to impact financial results they don’t understand.
  • Communicate: To maintain relevance in today’s organizations, it’s up to accountants and their leaders to shift their primary focus from back-office rule-following to front-office communication. Rather than spending all their time creating, entering, and reconciling repetitive, routine transactions, today’s accountants need to be partners with department leaders in planning, analyzing, and interpreting results for better decision making.

The Next Frontier of Business Intelligence

We’ve been talking a lot about the Modern CFO and Business Intelligence in recent months, working to demystify the process of implementing ERP and quelling the concerns that you may have about making such a move. 

Get in contact with us to learn more.