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More than ever, today’s CFOs are expected to have a degree of tech savviness. Big data and analytics are tools that are just too powerful to ignore in the CFO suite. If you’re not particularly tech savvy, harnessing the power of these tools to the fullest extent will remain out of reach.
It’s crucial to understand just how powerful today’s technology tools are for financial leadership. Whatever the nature of your business and industry, technology can empower you and your staff in the following ways.
Forecasting and Risk
Forecasting has always been a part of the CFO’s role. Forecasting today can be much more accurate, thanks to the rich data that’s available. CFOs must have the skills to understand and interpret that data (or they must employ people who can). Use robust data and analytics to reduce the amount of guesswork in your forecasting.
Risk management is another responsibility under your purview as CFO. Forecasting and risk management are interrelated, of course, and both have traditionally involved a fair bit of prediction and uncertainty. If you’re like most CFOs, you’re a fairly risk-averse person. Reduce the risks of prediction and uncertainty by basing your decision-making on data wherever possible.
Advanced Data Visualization Techniques
All this data that companies now have access to can quickly become overwhelming. Today’s tech savvy CEOs harness the power of advanced data visualization techniques to bring the most important information to the surface. These techniques include making dashboards for interacting with the data and scorecards for presenting it to users at all levels.
In the 1960s, business predictions were often made around a conference table in a smoke-filled room. They were based on some amount of data, but hunches, opinions, and interpersonal power dynamics often played an outsized role.
Today, there’s a better way. Predictive analytics are driven by algorithms and data, not by cigars and opinions. Leverage the power of all the data you’ve collected into predictive analytics. While they are neither perfect nor omniscient, predictive analytics remove human biases from forecasting. This powerful tool can enhance your effectiveness as a CFO.
Adjust in Real Time
The CFO that understands how to use these new tools can be agile, adjusting in real time based on the data that’s coming in. Many marketplaces change rapidly, and a 6-month-old report may no longer ring true. Big data and analytics let CFOs make these quick adjustments as they continually monitor data and adjust their predictions.
Acting on your analysis of data can often spur on innovation and growth. Creating efficiencies aids in growth, and as you do so you’re likely to discover new business opportunities, such as a hole in the market that your company is suited to fill.
Having a tech savvy CFO brings many advantages to a company. As a result, being a tech savvy CFO makes you a much more valuable asset. If you’re not there yet, here are a few quick tips for how to get there.
Yes, this sounds basic, but if you don’t understand how to use analytics to do the things we’ve talked about, you need to learn. If others in your company already know analytics, leverage your rank. You are the CFO, after all—make it part of their job to teach you. If you’re in a smaller firm that has yet to embrace big data and analytics, it may be time to go get a certification in this area.
Meet Regularly with Experts
Your CIO, if your firm has one, should be well versed in the sorts of technology we’ve discussed today. Meet regularly with your CIO and ask questions. Do the same with other experts in your network. They aren’t the finance people, so they may not readily see how big data and analytics can transform your role. As your understanding grows and you learn to them the right questions, you’re likely to discover breakthroughs together.
Read What They Read
Sites like CIO.com are go-to resources for CIOs, but you can benefit there, too. Not every article will apply to what you’re learning, but many will. Reading sites like these will increase your overall tech comfort level.
Leverage the Data
As your understanding of analytics grows, you can start leveraging that data in real, meaningful ways. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a deluge of data if you don’t have the tools to parse through it. At the same time, it’s possible to parse the data so finely that you miss valuable conclusions. As your comfort level grows, you’ll improve in leveraging data to the fullest extent.
Educate Your Team
Last, you need to educate your team. As you journey to become a tech-savvy CFO, teach your team what you’re learning so that they can help you win using data and analytics.