In a rapidly changing business environment, financial executives are being asked to go beyond the traditional role of managing and safeguarding company assets to drive business decisions and co-pilot digital transformation in their organizations
In the new business paradigm of the 21st century, Controllers are being called upon to shift their focus from number crunching to reshaping the finance function by harnessing the potential of digital technologies and taking on a more proactive and strategic role in their organizations, in addition to deploying the necessary resources to structure and implement transformation plans across the board.
This requires a change in mindset, one that advocates a data-driven culture. In this new reality, Controllers must pioneer that change, effectively aligning investment in new technologies with the business strategy and core finance function to drive financial transformation. This requires stepping out of their comfort zone to develop new qualities such as emotional intelligence to build effective and persuasive communication skills.
To achieve this transformation, four major challenges must be addressed:
- Guarantors of the organization’s finance core values. Controllers are being asked to go beyond the traditional role of managing and safeguarding company assets to drive business decisions and become co-pilots of digital transformation in their organizations.
- Cost efficiency. This must be achieved at the lowest possible cost through optimized investment decisions in order to ensure bottom-line success.
- Lead the decision-making process. The finance function must be capable of helping the organization to make business-critical decisions by evaluating, measuring and anticipating information needs.
- Help to define and implement the business strategy. Given their holistic vision of the organization, Controllers must leverage their cross-cutting role to assist CEOs by providing key information to anticipate potential problems and make better, identify new opportunities and develop/create new business models and insight-driven business decisions.
everis helps them deliver on this mandate and rise to the new challenges of the digital economy, which call for transformation in terms of internal organization, procedures, information management and technology. We believe that the key is to use and combine the available technology, analytical models and information to turn raw data and dashboard metrics into actionable insights that can be used across the organization to drive actions that lead to successful business outcomes.
But we can’t optimize what we don’t measure. While traditional business intelligence is a reality at most companies, there is a growing need to embrace digital technologies based on Big Data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to build intelligent data analysis systems that will answer the questions triggered by financial and management reports in order to make better-informed decisions based on real-time data.
In a complex landscape made up of big vendors, open source players and startups, legacy technologies are being constantly replaced with secure, cheaper and scalable cloud solutions that enable data mining and complex analytical modeling based on machine learning and artificial intelligence, integration and modeling of heterogeneous, structured and unstructured data sources, massive parallel processing and offer high storage capacity. Moreover, artificial intelligence has the potential to drive innovative decision-making dynamics and entirely new business models by automating the decision-making process.
The Value of Analytics for Controllers
The key role of the management control function in helping companies rise to these new challenges was the underlying theme of Controller Centricity CCA 2017, a 360-degree event sponsored by everis and organized by the Global Chartered Controller Institute (GCCI). Controllers from leading Spanish companies in Madrid came together to discuss and exchange views on how to generate differential capabilities for decision-making, define the business variables and drivers that must be measured and identify the key elements in the creation and organization of the Management Control Department.
In her presentation, Belén Villasante, Managing Director of Finance and Operating Models Transformation at everis, explained how these differential capabilities can be generated to make better, data-driven business decisions using Finance Analytics: “Beyond supervising the finance function, the new business reality requires Controllers to take on a more proactive and strategic role in the decision-making process using digital technologies to help the different corporate areas to anticipate their potential consequences and impact,” adding that “it is becoming increasingly important not only to discriminate all this information, but also to convey the message effectively.”
Belén underlined that Analytics is key to placing the controlling function at the core of the business and enables it to evolve from pure financial modeling to real-time scenario-based decision-making through Real-Time Integrated Business Planning.
This involves the use of data-driven business models to determine the impact of key internal and external variables and drivers and predict how changes are likely to affect the organization’s capacity to continue to meet customer expectations.
These models allow Controllers to quickly extract valuable insight from datasets integrated by all the information available on the market (internal company data, structured/unstructured data, customer opinions, competition, etc.) with the desired level of complexity and granularity, helping them by providing key information to anticipate potential problems and make better, insight-driven business decisions and specifically targeted, timely interventions.