“Good technology choices are the answer to many critical questions facing the CFO. Unfortunately, poor technology choices – or failure to make a choice – can represent a technology tax on an organization’s results.” So says Stu Lucko, CFO at insightsoftware.com, the creators of Hubble, a business performance management solution offering real-time reporting, analytics, and planning. Lucko has a unique perspective on this topic, based on both his experience as a CFO of a growing company and a view into the critical issues that finance professionals face.
Prior-generation business-intelligence solutions have often created one problem for each problem they solved, typically by specifying processes that generate additional costs, lengthening queues for IT support by business users, providing only historical (rather than real-time) data and analysis, slowing access to all data, and in general creating unnecessary overhead for CFOs seeking to lower finance costs.
Many users of those legacy systems become so frustrated with “waiting for reports” that they either make decisions on gut feeling or use inefficient manual (one-off) processes to analyze data (see the Productivity Tax). Oftentimes, IT is so overwhelmed with requests for tactical reports that requests for strategic analysis – to inform key business decisions – are deferred or missed entirely.
And when new technology is chosen, oftentimes long implementations make life worse for everyone, not better – every CFO has a favorite horror story on this point. The irony is that even when the money is spent wisely and the technology choice is the correct one, there are often Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) lags and latency performance issues – which means the user still doesn’t get access to the data he needs in the time frame he needs it.
The (Technology) Taxman Cometh
Lucko helps quantify the amount of technology tax that many finance functions are paying. He cites recent findings that:
- Only 17% of companies have a self-service function for data requests. (PwC)
- Data warehouses have a median implementation time of 1.67 years and a median cost of $2.3 million (IDC)
- Only 6% of Finance leaders are comfortable with the current state of their finance technology (PwC)
Lucko also shares the case example of Hubble client Sinclair, a pioneer and leader in the development of automatic fruit-labeling systems. Sinclair didn’t know exactly how much the technology tax was costing them, but they knew they had finance performance issues and could see no easy way to resolve them. In fact, Sinclair had 18 different online analytical processing (OLAP) cubes, but following the implementation of Hubble, a real-time, integrated performance management (BPM) solution, they were able to offer critical business users access to data in real-time without going through the IT function. In short, Sinclair was ultimately able to cut the technology tax by implementing a solution that:
- Is designed for business users from top to bottom
- Connects BPM directly to ERP and understands it
- Was up and running in days (not months or years)
Finance teams that once served as traffic cops for IT reporting can now step away from that role. In a finance function that is increasingly being asked to inform decision-making, better options are available. It’s time for a technology tax cut.
For more information, go to www.gohubble.com
Next in the series: The Confidence Tax.