Oletta Stewart, marketing specialist at MHR Analytics, discusses how organisations can make the most of the reams of data at their fingertips.
Data – some experts have called it the biggest asset of the 21st century, whilst others have claimed it to be the new oil.
There’s no doubt that data is becoming more and more powerful, but it’s not just simply having data that makes it an asset, it’s what you do with it.
This is where the whole idea of data maturity comes into play.
Data maturity is the extent to which organisations utilise their data to get the most out of it. The more advanced analytical techniques used to analyse data, the more data-mature the organisation is.
Likewise, an organisation that does not utilise analytics, is likely to only be in the very early stages of their data maturity journey.
When it comes to advancing in data maturity, as a finance professional you are in a unique position. Not only does your day-to-day role involve you managing your organisations’ financial data, but your position also gives you a real understanding of the power that data has to enhance strategic advantage.
The issue is, without utilising analytics to automate financial processes, many finance professionals are left stuck spending precious time carrying out admin-heavy tasks which prevent them from realising their full potential.
This article will explore how advancing in your data maturity journey and adopting analytics can further leverage your expertise and enable you to position yourself as a real strategic voice within your organisation.
- Better financial planning
Effective planning is a must, but traditional planning that relies on manually inputting data into spreadsheets can be both time-consuming and pose the risk of inaccurate data.
On top of this, spreadsheets are infamously difficult to aggregate, so identifying useful insights to draw meaningful conclusions is another major downside of this approach.
Advancing in your data maturity journey by introducing analytics into your planning, streamlines this process and provides the opportunity to visualise your data in real-time.
This means that even minor financial changes in the business can be easily tracked and updated in financial plans. Through automating your financial planning, you can free yourself from the task of having to spend countless hours manually inputting your data, and instead invest your time in activities that generate the most value. Plus, you can have peace of mind that your planning is accurate and free from errors.
In addition to this, analytics allows you to align your financial plans with activity across the business so that your efforts are constantly working to help realise your organisation’s wider strategic goals.
- More accurate predictions
Predicting future revenue, costs and profit is central to any finance professional’s role. Harnessing the power of predictive analytics makes these predictions a whole lot more accurate.
Using historical data, you can anticipate what will happen in the future, giving you the chance to spot opportunities way in advance whilst they’re still invisible to the human eye.
This advanced analytics technique gives you the ability to set up different model scenarios to see how potential decisions impact finances, without having to blindly commit to one course of action.
Overall, this provides you with the opportunity to get fully involved in the decision-making process and advise your organisation about the potential consequences of their actions.
- Reduce financial risk
Progressing on your data maturity journey can help you to significantly reduce financial risk.
Analytics gives you the chance to calculate financial risk at a more granular level than ever before, allowing you to optimise your resources and ensure that it’s being used in the best way possible.
Often, the biggest risks aren’t thought of until it’s too late. As you advance in your data journey, technologies like artificial intelligence can also be used to take insights to a new level by highlighting issues prior to them even being considered.
Such technology can equip you with the insights you need to recommend measures so that you can ensure that your organisation is prepared no matter what gets thrown at it.
- Increased profitability
Handling your organisation’s financial data on a daily basis places you in the optimum position to identify future growth opportunities.
Research shows that organisations that use analytics to analyse their data get a return of £13.01 for every pound invested.
Similarly, in Deloitte’s Analytics Advantage report, revenue generation or cost reduction was reported to be the most valued outcome of using analytics to better understand data.
Using analytics can help you to increase your organisation’s profitability by giving you a better insight into:
• Investment opportunities
• Forecasting financial performance
• Key financial drivers
- Streamlined processes
One major sign of data maturity is when you remove business silos and instead opt for a more connected way of working.
It’s important that your financial plans are synced with all areas of the business to eliminate silos and ensure that decision-making takes all business activity into account.
Putting all of your organisation’s financial data in one centralised analytics system and establishing defined data standards allows you to become instrumental in promoting collaboration across your organisation.
This will enable you to dive deeper than ever into your organisation’s financial data and unlock insights that help you to make even better decisions.
Analytics is helping finance professionals break free from the stereotype of being mere “number crunchers”, and is empowering them to drive their organisation’s financial health and its ability to meet its strategic objectives.
As a finance professional, you have full responsibility for your own data maturity, and how you advance in your data journey will have a direct impact on the amount value that you can provide as an expert.
MHR Analytics provides business intelligence and analytics solutions, helping organisations make intelligent decision based on data.