Is Big Data the Key to Competitive Advantage?

Keeping up with the Joneses is a phrase that CFOs hear every day in their quest to stay ahead of their competitors, and in today’s world, they should take the lead in harnessing corporate data not just to aid in their strategic decision making, but also in the expansion of influence outside of their core functions.

Big Use for Big Data

Big data should be used by CFOs today not just for financial functions in planning, budgeting and forecasting, but also as a tool for supply chain management to production, even used towards managing customer interactions and setting pricing.

Typically, the business unit or division head of a business would be the ones frequently leading in analytics, and taking responsibility for the budgetary area. Finance, however, is recognised as the area most likely to invest in analytics, with the pandemic showcasing that financial directors play a wider role in moving companies away from traditional operating models in favour of more real-time insight-driven strategy, enabling them to make better and faster decisions.

Quick Decision Making

With the onset of the pandemic, CFOs were thrust into immediate and decisive action in insulating their businesses, setting up areas such as new payment terms with suppliers and revised expenditure protocols. In looking towards the future, These individuals must consider the best way to deliver an environment to promote fast and effective recovery. The critical element that will be a focus is real-time information access on key performance indications to support clear decision making.

Data delivers insights, and unfortunately also unwanted background noise which makes insights potentially misleading in unaddressed. This requires CFOs to invest in data curation initiatives to manage, maintain and validate data for focus on quality.

International recruitment company Hays launched their global data centralization project in the last 3 years, with Big Data now falling under the remit of the finance function with board-level members such as the CTO involved.

Today’s Requirement

In today’s world, the more complex, global businesses operate in a multi-locational capacity with different business units in operation. Today, the importance lies in having one singular version of the truth. In the case of Hays, the company now operates with ensured rapid insight into key operational data which underpins decision-making on a global level, as well as country, office and desk level. The CFO understands data on a global basis to challenge the business units.

Companies are now being called to introduce more analytical processes and use raw data to deliver business-critical information. With Big Data becoming more important as the years move forward, it is important for businesses to proactively look at the top line, bottom line and governance opportunities by leveraging intelligence from supplied data analytics.

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