Cloud, Agility and BI Self-Services

Developments in Corporate Finance

In the course of digital transformation, CFOs and finance departments will be faced with a vast array of changes and new demands. What’s in store for financial specialists and CFOs? And how can SMEs succeed at digitisation in corporate performance management?

Big data and big data analytics, agility and the cloud are far more than just buzzwords: for quite some time they have been setting the general conditions with which CFOs, as business partners with responsibility for enterprise management, need to concern themselves. Cloud-native BI systems and software solutions, which have long been mainstream at the major corporations, will catch on in the SME sector too in the years ahead. This is due to the considerable advantages that can be gained in terms of speed and quality by subscribing to the software in the cloud, as modern cloud-based software tools are markedly better at integrating back-office systems and they can process large data sets a lot more quickly by making use of virtualisation technologies and the like. As far as agility is concerned, I’d again recommend SMEs to look to the major corporations for guidance. It’s up to the financial controllers, as the spearhead of business management, to be the driving force behind improving agility in the SME sector too – not as a method of software development, but as an organisational concept for making businesses more flexible and able to react sooner to changes in the market.

From my point of view, there are four key requirements that CFOs should fulfil in order to be future-proof:

  1. The standardisation and automation of processes is essential. Financial controllers will then have more time for their corporate performance management tasks instead of wasting it on activities that are less worthwhile.
  2. The second key requirement relates to data quality and data availability. It’s a question of achieving a state where there is a single point of truth. Businesses need to have a single data source. All the relevant data need to be in one data lake, where each record may only occur once. On that basis, the corporate performance management team can then report the relevant KPIs through a variety of channels at very frequent intervals or even in real time.
  3. BI self-services, the third set of tasks, are extremely important – in my opinion they are indeed the only option. Yet BI self-services will only run smoothly if there is a single point of truth. Only on the basis of a single data source will interrelationships become clear. This will ensure that the data will be understood by everybody in the same way – and only then will the corporate performance management team be able to offer BI self-services for the various levels in the company – be it the executive managers, the heads of department or the workforce.
  4. The fourth requirement relates to the management of new business models. This is above all a question of managing digital, data-driven business models with a targeted approach in the platform economy. It is linked to a new affinity for risk in relation to the methods and strategies in budgeting. Businesses should allow their departments greater flexibility and more creative freedom – and that goes for their budgets and schedules too.

There’s no getting around the issue of artificial intelligence in corporate performance management either, for instance, when automating workflows or for routine decision-making. Payment transactions and fraud detection are use cases that immediately come to mind. Together with automated processes, this will enable great progress to be made in efficiency and effectiveness, without which things will certainly not run smoothly in a world that is becoming ever more complex.

Sounds interesting? Mario Zillmann will be appearing as the keynote speaker at the Digital Finance event with a talk entitled “Corporate Finance 4.0 – Trends for the CFOs of the Future”. The next Digital Finance events will be held in Stuttgart on 2nd July 2019, in Munich on 17th July 2019, and in Hamburg on 10th September 2019. Sign up HERE now.

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