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Updated: September 27, 2021 10 things

10 Things I know about ... How CFOs plan to use data

CFOs are ready for change when it comes to how they use data. An AAFCPAs survey of 200+ New England financial executives revealed they are seeking better ways to predict what is coming, in addition to the age-old practice of analyzing what has been. Their challenge lies in solving for people, process, and system limitations. 

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James Jumes, MBA, M.Ed., is a partner at Westborough accounting firm AAFCPAs.

10) CFOs have fully embraced data. Finance executives seek to evolve their data management efforts to optimize the use of that data to cross over traditional boundaries of pure accounting.

9) CFOs see the big picture. The goal of the CFO is to provide clarity to the CEO, to ensure well-informed decisions. This effort suffers with a lack of visibility.

8) COVID changed the way we think about data. In 2021, CFOs believe a focus on the future is more imperative.

7) CFOs are asking the right questions … almost. CFOs reported progress in defining questions answering “What happened?” and “Are things within tolerance of contracts or statutes?” However, they are lagging in “What will happen?” and “What do we need to do to make things happen?”

6) The crystal ball needs better batteries. Predictive analytics have risen as the top priority. Unfortunately, more than 75% of CFOs say they don’t have adequate data.

5) CFOs know the right path, but the constraints are real. The most significant barriers to turning data into actionable information are a lack of sufficient tools and personnel.

4) People, people, people! In 2017, 33% percent of CFOs identified a lack of available human talent as the primary challenge. Today, that number is 49%.

3) To see is to believe. Data visualization tools, such as dashboards, are evolving quickly to help CFOs provide financial clarity.

2) The pandemic created a new emphasis on expecting the unexpected. Great data is the only way to modernize scenario planning.

1) The struggle is real – and has real consequences. Without the right data, CFOs have less visibility and insight, are held back from developing a full picture, and cannot present the most compelling points. This could lead to budget constraints due to uncertainty, and less investment in the talent.

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