If you’re a CFO and haven’t become best friends with a BI (Business Intelligence) tool yet, my guess is that you soon will. Imagine spending your day analyzing data versus collecting it. No more tracking company performance in spreadsheets or waiting on IT to run complex reports. By recognizing the value of a BI tool, you gain a single source of truth for company data – and the power and time to analyze it. This access, combined with your financial acuity, puts you in the best possible position to positively impact the trajectory of your company’s success.
Companies that adopt a data-driven culture are the most successful. The ability to analyze consolidated, cross-company data enables you to provide the executive team with strategic advice based on reliable data that has previously been too manual and time-consuming to retrieve. You will be able to identify hidden trends and missed opportunities. For example, rather than just a report that shows profits increased, BI lets you pinpoint why they increased.
According to Gartner, BI and analytics continue to top the list of CFOs’ investment priorities across all organizations — with 38 percent citing it in their top three priorities.
Think about it. How many hours have you spent in meetings where various department heads debated the accuracy of the numbers? The amount of time spent across the company pulling data and debating reports kills productivity and often results in animosity amongst the leadership team. By integrating ERP, CRM, HR, marketing, and other back-end data systems into a BI platform, all company data is compiled into one central location. This enables the executive team to focus on problem-solving and seizing new opportunities. Key decisions on pricing, inventory, and procurement can be made confidently using agreed-upon data.
When it comes to seeking out strategic advice, CEOs turn to CFOs 72 percent of the time. BI data enables you to provide the most well-informed advice possible.
What to Look for in a BI Solution
When researching BI solutions for your company, look for solutions that enable APIs to gather data in real-time. Having the benefit of up-to-the-minute information is far more effective than looking at data that is out-of-date, if only by a day. You will also want an automated data refresh capability that enables you to set the dashboard publication schedule to meet your needs.
The ability to customize your dashboards to suit specific requirements for each department is also critical. Look for tools that provide easy customization. Tools that offer a wide variety of visualization widgets increase adoption by empowering users to customize dashboards for their unique business needs.
If your company hasn’t invested in BI yet, start the discussion!