For finance leaders laboring in the age of data overload, there really is no time to take a breather. For decades, CFOs have been told they need to expand their portfolio: keep one hand firmly on the accounting, financial reporting and balance sheet tiller, but with the other become a strategy consigliere to the CEO.
This drumbeat remains as persistent today as it was 30 years ago. Even as CFOs have made important strides toward achieving this goal, advances in digital technology and data analytics have raised the bar for success. Today, CFOs and their finance colleagues are no longer expected to just provide financial numbers, they’re expected to provide key insights quickly to drive the business. They’re expected to incorporate not only financial data into their analyses, but also operating and external data — vast amounts of it. They’re expected to produce integrated business planning, in-depth operational plans and provide transparency to a lower level of detail than before. New regulatory requirements, including Lease Accounting (ASC 842/IFRS 16), Revenue Accounting (ASC 606/IFRS 15) and IFRS 9 and IFRS 17, demand ever more granular detail. They’re expected to provide a more comprehensive view of the financial results and be the strategic partner for business.
CFOs will need to add a wide array of artificial intelligence technologies to their tool kits so that their finance organizations can move beyond providing descriptive analytics to delivering timely, AI-enabled predictive analytics — and, ultimately, prescriptive analytics. For good measure, senior finance executives also are being pushed to provide business users with self-service access to much of the data, and many of the data analytics tools, that have long been the province of finance — all while ensuring the integrity of that data and any outputs derived from it.
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