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CFOs and the Chief Data Officer

CFOs and the Chief Data Officer: Embracing Big Data Elevates the Role and Impact of CFOs

May 11, 2017
CFOs and the Chief Data Officer - Artsyl

To paraphrase a recent hit action film, “With Big Data comes Big Responsibility.” When it comes to the role of the CFO in organizations today, leadership around how data is gathered, managed, analyzed and acted upon has increasingly become under their purview.

A Q3 2016 CFO Indicator Report substantiates this trend. According to the report survey, 45% of companies surveyed suggested that the CFO was the “acting Chief Data Officer.” The second most popular response? “No one” (27% of responses). CIOs were the third most common response, followed by 6% who had someone formally dedicated to this role.

Why the CFO and not the CIO? While the CFO Indicator Report did not suggest the drivers for who assumed ownership and responsibility for data, the trend mirrors a broader trend when it comes to data management and process automation. That trend is an empowerment of business process owners, rather than ownership/management by technology experts.

Process and Data Ownership

It is a trend reflected in the adoption of smart process platforms and zero code technology; platforms that support flexible, intelligent applications that can adapt to automate a wide range of business processes with minimal coding, customization or added development. As a result, the question of “who owns and responsible for the data?” comes down to who is making use of the data and stands to have the greatest impact on the business through the application of that data to solving business problems.

And THAT data points clearly to the CFO. Again, as the CFO Indicator Report suggests, CFOs are not only tracking financial KPIs to monitor and manage the health of the business; they are increasingly relying on non-financial KPIs to gain a better insights into business performance. According to their survey, 75% of CFOs surveyed relied on non-financial KPIs and over half expect these metrics to comprise up to 30% of their KPIs in two years (up from 10%).

Choosing the Right KPIs

When it comes to the right KPIs and the right data, no two companies are alike. As united as CFOs are in their opinions that KPI tracking will include a larger percentage of nonfinancial KPIs, they are divided when it comes to what the most significant non-financial metrics should be. In only a few cases (6%) did CFOs cite customer-oriented metrics as the most significant non-financial KPI they track. Headcount, customer satisfaction, safety, and customer count were among the many diverse metrics referenced as the most important, but the close tie of non-financial KPIs to a company’s specific strategies and goals—and to each individual company’s business—likely drives broad variances in the definition of non-financial KPIs.

Regardless of the metrics, the data to support those KPIs is increasingly from non-structured sources—meaning that it may NOT be data that is readily formatted or communicated in a form that is ready for your structured ERP data environment. Sources of that information, from emails to electronic or paper documents, contain valuable data, but that data will not be TIMELY unless there are proper systems and processes in place to transform it into structured, actionable information. That’s where Smart Process Platforms and Applications come in.

Getting to the Data

Smart Process Platforms include intelligent capture technology to take unstructured content and extract meaningful business information. For many companies, that takes the form of extracting payables information from scanned or digital invoices to automate accounts payable, or customer order information to automate sales order processing.

But that’s just the beginning. CIOs that promote a vision for how data is organized, managed, shared and acted upon within an organization can tap into the potential to go beyond process automation efficiencies to better KPI tracking and informed decision making with Smart Process Technology.

To learn more, contact your Artsyl Technologies representative. We’ll explore your business objectives, KPIs and process flows to help you automate processes and deliver real time data to decision makers when and where they need it.