Data-first: A CFO’s ally

Data-first-CFO's-ally

As technology pervades every business function, it brings with it a fusion of roles among C-suite leadership. IT, which was once the exclusive domain of CTOs, now attracts a CFO’s interest. 

Cognizant of how important data is for their daily activities – from financial reporting, planning, and forecasting to strategic business problem-solving – CFOs are raring to invest in new technologies that will deliver real-time insights so they can make better decisions, faster. The 2019 CFO Survey Report by Grant Thornton predicts that, “[CFOs] will focus on pragmatic and targeted technology implementations that can be measured and monitored for results and value.” However, with a slew of new products on the market, how do they know what to choose and invest in? And, how do they articulate the long-term value of these IT investments?

The problem: Disconnected systems, inaccurate value calculations

Modern business processes tend to span multiple systems. Think order processing or claims management. When organizations look to digitally transform these processes without a connected, data-first approach, they may find themselves saddled with a plethora of piecemeal systems that create data silos. 

This non-integrated system implementation makes it difficult for CFOs to gain insights into revenue, operations, and returns, or even track value from processes that rely on multiple systems. For instance, how to assess the efficiency of order processing, which involves different systems for receiving, validating, preparing, shipping, and reporting on orders? 

A common solution is to hire business analysts to crunch the numbers – a time-consuming, error-prone exercise that is often based on unreliable and untraceable data. So, the value realized from a process remains opaque. And the lack of transparency leaves senior leadership with myopic views of how exactly IT aligns with the business. 

 

New opportunities need new functionality

Moreover, today’s rapid pace of change means that customers interact with businesses through new digital touchpoints every day. It is critical for companies to enable functionalities that link existing infrastructure with these new ways of doing business. Say a company with a legacy mainframe system discovers that a portion of orders originates through a social media platform. They have to enable functionality that allows the monolithic mainframe to seamlessly access data from social media in order to drive order fulfillment. Without a connected data-first approach, this becomes a manual and non-intuitive process.

When IT systems are designed without long-term vision, leaders struggle to gain visibility into valuable data and tap into new ways of doing business – a key competitive differentiator of the digital enterprise.

 

The solution: lies in finding the right approach

As the custodian of budgeting, the finance function already has overarching access into all business areas. The key is to unlock data, so insights into metrics (and consequently, value) is available at their fingertips.

At CAPIOT, this approach is themed around becoming data-first. We put data at the core –break data silos, cleanse and integrate it into a common repository, make it accessible for different functions, and help visualize insights from it in a seamless and intuitive manner. Across the board, leaders can access and apply data to innovate, optimize and become agile. With a data-first approach, IT becomes a true enabler of business. 

 

What is data-first? 

It about enabling connectivity for seamless access to data across the organization. It is about tracking processes instantly and finding the right answers to high-level questions. While analysts may seek these answers by digging up data that resides with different teams at different locations in different formats, a data-first approach sails through these complexities. For instance, if a company invests in SalesForce, sales-related data becomes instantly available in a governed manner for consumption across all projects. This on-demand data access at the enterprise level is the core of becoming data-first. Centralizing data becomes the first step to driving other programs – be it legacy modernization, spend analytics or customer engagement. 

Clearly, being #datafirst delivers numerous business benefits. But the success lever is that it allows CFOs and IT teams to precisely calculate and evaluate those benefits to make the right decisions about IT investments. 

Check out our next blog to find out how to calculate the RoI of being data-first.

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