Seven Ways to Gain Data Clarity in An Uncertain Climate

By Dennis Johnson, Chief Financial Officer at Qlik


6 min read

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It’s been a rollercoaster ride for everyone over the last few years, with particular pressure on Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) to support CEOs steering their organizations through things none of us expected to experience in our lifetime. Unfortunately, with the financial markets going into turmoil over the last few months and consumers of all shapes and sizes starting to cut back on spending, the uncertainty isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

Finance is Protecting Its Tech

The good news is that finance leaders understand the role that technology can play in helping them to claim a tighter group on an organization’s finances. A whopping 98% of CFOs said they wanted to protect their digital investments, with another 66% saying they actually planned to increase their investments in this area to improve performance efficiency.

But it’s not enough to just invest in the right technology to be able to steer a business; CFOs and their teams must be equipped to make the best use of it. For many, this is easier said than done which is why I wanted to share my top seven ways to help finance leaders and their teams gain data clarity in an uncertain climate:

  1. Be prepared for more volume, variety and velocity: New technology, processes and closer enquiry means more volume, variety and velocity of data. The risk of being deluged by data is real, particularly if the finance team is analyzing data from other functions around the business. CFOs need to be sure they can extract the right data to compel action in real-time, find efficiencies in processes and help drive change that can improve operations

  2. Put a clean data source in place: Getting a clean data source in place is crucial but is a concept many organizations struggle with, let alone thinking how they can get into a position to perform analytics and make business decisions with the data. However, CFOs and finance teams need to capture all of this data into one complete source – once they have done this, they can start to trust the data.

  3. Develop a holistic data strategy: Extracting the right data can be an overwhelming task for those in the finance team who are tasked with delivering the right strategic guidance but lack deep understanding of how each function operates. This is why developing a holistic strategy and making the right digital investments to help pull it together is essential.

  4. Get clarity on organizational KPIs: It’s impossible to measure success and performance if a baseline hasn’t been agreed across the business. Everyone needs to be clear on what a job well done looks like. Then it’s time to map where this data comes from and to work with functions that own it to get access, and this is the important part - in real-time.

  5. Real-time data is the lynchpin for success: In a rapidly changing environment, the ability to access and analyze real-time data is everything. Up-to-date data is currency; outdated data is a potential debt. Current data provides live views into financial performance; and helps pinpoint areas for improvement and where your business may need to pivot when necessary.

  6. Bring disparate data together: Too often, data is siloed in different operational systems and can’t be automatically accessed in real-time for analysis. But through a modern approach, data from different sources can be combined and made available through analytics. When real-time data is used, it can create usable insights that can generate meaningful actions. This level of analytics should be the end-goal: an organization that unifies core processes and can react in real-time to insights triggered within a single system.

  7. Easy access supports agile decision-making: Having this data is great but being able to access it easily is what makes it really useful. There are apps out there which enable CFOs to look at real-time numbers in real-time with just a swipe on a screen. This type of user-friendly approach to financial data enables leaders to make instant decisions to improve their business, acting with confidence and certainty.

Moving forwards with clarity

No one can say with certainty what the next few years will entail, which is a heavy burden for CFOs to bear given the responsibility they hold for the businesses they serve. History has taught us that those who act intelligently and continue to make smart investments are the most likely to rebound. Breaking down silos to access the right, trusted data can help an organization gain as much clarity as possible when everything in the world outside seems uncertain.

CFOs and their teams are investing in the right technologies and skills so they can drive more certainty through data.

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