Why Data is Key in Providing Commercial Insight

Data…it’s all about data. And irrespective of sector, businesses churn out and collect data. This could be about customers, suppliers and supply chains or operations. In a world full of data the list is endless.

In a data-rich world, it is essential to cut through the chaff, identify what is relevant, analyse and interpret it and then understand how it can best be used to positively impact the business. Much of this analysis and interpretation currently falls under the CFO function.

During 2017, Norman Broadbent Interim Management has seen trends emerging around data analytics and how it impacts the finance function. For example, did you know that there has been:

  • A 61% growth in hiring of senior professionals to improve business planning and budgeting process and to create closer collaboration with the business
  • A 41% growth in Finance Transformation Programmes identifying and using data to drive cost reduction programmes in areas such as Supply Chain, contractor spend, technology and global customer profitability / margin erosion correction
  • A 44% uplift in demand for specialist Interim Financial Systems Programme Directors. Whilst some demand is around specific software skills, more emphasis is being placed on managing implementation to time/budget and ensuring the value add is still aligned to delivering business needs through effecting system and data integration

Many forward-thinking businesses look to the CFO to help provide answers which will drive better outcomes for the business via the interpretation of data. The role of the Finance Business Partner has been revolutionised in many companies and is now seen as a proactive, commercial business manager sitting at the heart the organisation. For FP&A functions, simply aligning forecasting, budgeting to strategy and producing the 200 page plan is no longer enough. Finance is no longer aligning itself to strategy but creating it. However, companies are slow to adopt specific systems for analytics and the result is more resource but also a different type of skill and expertise.

Growth in Interim usage is meeting these needs. Hiring an experienced professional with experience of managing data or business planning in a number of different companies or sectors brings value in challenging and improving processes, diversity of thought and questioning from a different perspective. Producing meaningful business plans, annual budgets may be the outcome, but the lasting legacy is process, people and systems improvement. In addition, Interims will be working to understand and create new analytical tools, KPIs and different ways of using data to inform and support business decisions.

As highlighted above, implementing new technologies has again been high on the agenda this year. Whilst the business may be embracing technology for digitisation and automation for operational efficiency and speed, CFOs are also meeting new demands by upgrading systems. Technology is a great enabler for Finance when it acts as a strategic business adviser. No longer is it good enough for finance systems to produce historical data and simply report what happened last month. Whilst some technology will streamline processes and help manage increasingly complex workloads, the majority of it is there to provide forward looking insight. The landscape is changing – business now demands new, more granular detail across customers, pricing and the impact of a changing regulatory environment against other more fundamental changes be they social, economic and political.

At Norman Broadbent Interim, our CFO Practice has over 20 years of supporting and facilitating change in the Finance function. Working in conjunction with our Executive Search practice, we offer CFOs the ability to access a unique network of Finance and Technology professionals in the market and to a wealth of expertise to deliver cost effective solutions which deliver lasting benefits.

For further information on our CFO practice please contact Jonathan Stringer on Tel: 0207 484 0036 or email: jonathan.stringer@normanbroadbentinterim.com