Written by Nick Brown
Posted on 29/10/2015

The Data-driven CFO

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In a world where data systems grow more and more complex and fragmented, business leaders need to secure the one source of data that can act as a reliable foundation for reporting business variables. This is the ‘single source of truth’, which is essentially the material that can safely be used to fuel operational data within a company. Once established, this source can be accessed as a platform by all employees to guide good business decision making.

Saying no to the silo

The cloud-based corporate performance management firm Adaptive Insights has unveiled a global survey of 435 CFOs that reveals how they are driving data initiatives and identifying pitfalls as they go. One common and deep pitfall is keeping data siloed, because this allows precious information to sit idle, unusable as a single-point database for all to access. This problem arises because accounts use a different platform from marketing who have totally different software from customer services. With each team busily using separate data the results are inevitable: collaborative confusion, reduced productivity and in the end, smaller profits.

Holistic healing

Now the holistic approach to decision making is being championed by a growing number of CFOs, who seek to join forces with their operational, information and HR colleagues to deliver a far more valuable collective view of critical business information. The Adaptive Insights survey reveals that 66% of CFOs are partnering with COOs, whilst 34% are teaming up with the head of HR and 30% with the company CIO*.

Stay single

So the quest is ultimately to find that ‘single source of truth’ to guide and shape effective business strategy. In a world where we have generated 90%* of our data in the last two years and volumes are predicted to continue increasing rapidly, it’s little wonder that those professionals tasked with extracting maximum value from every drop are keen to integrate operational data. No one wants to be swept away by the ‘data deluge’ that is widely expected in the next five years.

The truth is out there

The single source of truth is not a theoretical ideal. Although 62%* of CFOs are yet to achieve it, numerous strategic CFOs are actively driving their organisations towards attaining this organisational alignment. No one assumes it will be an easy journey, but the benefits are many and profound. So the truth about data-driven CFOs is that in many cases, it’s the CFOs who are doing the driving.