CFOs want big data to be a 'single source of truth'

Chief financial officers (CFOs) want their company data to provide accurate insights and actionable business transformation.

This is one of the findings of a new survey by specialists in cloud corporate performance management Adaptive Insights. The global survey of 435 CFOs focuses on data analytics trends, business collaboration strategies, the top financial mistakes most companies make and 2016 plans and predictions.

According to the results CFOs want data to provide a - rather Orwellian sounding - 'single source of truth' from which to derive business insights. They predict that the amount of data they manage will greatly increase by 2020, and they face significant data challenges with respect to the accuracy and timeliness of data.

The survey also asked about the top financial mistakes most companies make, 69 per cent of CFOs say that keeping data siloed is a major error while 40 per cent name having inaccurate data for forecasting and planning.

"Faced with a challenging macroeconomic environment and the need to provide a more holistic view of the business, CFOs are increasingly becoming the 'knowledge executive' in the organisation," says Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights. "As both the volume and sources of data increase, CFOs are working across departments, driving toward a single source of 'truth' that gives them a more consistent, comprehensive view of the organisation in real time. This view will ultimately provide more accurate business insights and inform more effective business strategy".

Data volumes are expected to grow, with a third of CFOs predicting the amount of data they manage will increase by over 50 per cent within the next five years, 3 per cent expect an increase of over 1,000 per cent. The number of systems used is an issue too, with 41 per cent of finance teams already managing data from three to five source systems and 22 per cent pulling information from as many as five to 10 systems. Sales data is named as the top non-financial information they need to access by 58 per cent of respondents.

Accuracy and integrity of data is cited as one of the most important characteristics needed for actionable reports and insights by 65 per cent of respondents followed by timeliness or shelf-life of data by 42 per cent.

When asked to look ahead to 2016 CFOs say that a potential rise in interest rates (48 per cent), mergers and acquisitions activity (38 per cent), cybersecurity (32 per cent) and political volatility (29 per cent) are the top factors likely to impact their business.

More information on how CFOs see the role of big data can be found on the Adaptive Insights site.

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