Finance has always been able to generate plenty of numbers: cost of goods, inventory valuation, units sold, revenue, profit margins, etc. And today’s complex, highly regulated and global business environment means that this flow of potentially valuable information will only continue to increase. These volumes of data and reporting requirements are challenging some finance departments to simply keep their head above water as they struggle with preparing financial statements, the timely closing of books, tax preparation and audits. Hopefully, they manage to slip in some financial projections and planning here and there.
But the real opportunity for finance lies in extracting useful, forward-looking information from all this financial data. Data-driven decisions are critical for successful innovation, and providing comprehensive, timely and accurate data helps executives make better business decisions.
Where finance can also add strategic value is in the correlation of information across the organization, to analyze it and — if not apply it directly — make it available to the right decision-makers at the right time. One CFO, interviewed as part of the global innovation report cited above, summed it well:
“Innovation is possible when we can look forward as well. What does this information tell me about trends? Do we speed up or slow down as an organization? Do we identify opportunities to be more successful in the marketplace? Can we afford to be more aggressive? It’s about telling the story of the numbers.”