1. If you don’t, your competitors will leave you behind.
Companies that don’t embrace the potential of big data for their business will not only fail to reap the benefits, they will be left behind by their competitors. Leading companies with sophisticated big data strategies achieve competitive advantage through big data, and it is fast becoming a necessity to survival.
2. Big data can transform the way business decisions are made.
Big data’s significant predictive power enables CFOs to make decisions based not on what happened last year, but based on what the data tells them is going to happen next year. It can also provide insights about customer or employee attitude or sentiment, that previously would only have been uncovered following a drop in sales or an increase in employee attrition rates.
3. To realize big data’s potential, cultural and strategic change needs to be driven from the top.
The most successful companies will be those that use data both to change the way they make business decisions and the way they do business. The CFO’s seat at the executive table enables them to advocate the strategic and cultural shifts necessary.
4. Compliance creates value.
Big data regulations are complex and vary across different jurisdictions. To avoid reputational and financial damage, and possible criminal penalties, CFOs must ensure there is a governance framework in place that ensures all big data activities are legally compliant. A rigorous approach to legal compliance is not only about risk mitigation – it will increasingly create value for the company by building trust and brand loyalty with customers.
5. Big data can help CFOs become more future-focused.
Big data will mean that business decision-making will increasingly be based on evidence-based predictions of future trends rather than observations of past events. The CFO role has been transformed in the last decade, and the focus has switched from controlling, measuring and budgeting to a far broader, strategic business leadership role. Big data has the potential to take this transformation one step further, by enabling CFOs to make business decisions based on the future, rather than the past.
6. Big data will make the finance function more agile and responsive.
For the last 30 years, finance processes have followed a cycle that has remained fundamentally unchanged. But the most sophisticated users of big data are already allowing it to disrupt their business cycle, and are adapting to changes to supply, demand, and the business environment. Big data can significantly increase the rigor around forecasting, and improve the way finance supports business decisions.
7. CFOs are used to data-driven decision-making.
The finance function has always had a responsibility for the collection and analysis of data, and has always been called upon to use its skills to guide business decision-making. This means that CFOs are ideally placed to identify data from across the business — and from both internal and external sources — that can be used to solve specific business issues.
8. CFOs must guide big data efforts to make them effective.
Big data’s value does not lie in its sheer volume, but in the specific business issues it can help to solve. With their financial insight into the whole business, CFOs are in a perfect position to identify the business problems that big data can help to address.
For those CFOs who succeed, big data will offer opportunities:
- To increase top line growth
- To manage costs, and eliminate those that aren’t driving value creation
- To improve efficiency by automating processes
- To change business models to adapt to the changing business environment
- To reduce risks