Data is the future, but many finance teams aren’t ready for it


While finance and accounting teams have big dreams for how data-driven decision making can boost their company, many have yet to fully implement a strategy to do so.

This is according to a recent report from EXL, a data analytics and digital operations solutions company, drafted in cooperation with HFS Research. Of the 200 finance and accounting leaders surveyed, 89% agree that data-driven finance is the future, and 87% say getting to this future will require investments in artificial intelligence analytics, the cloud, and digitally fluent talent.

At the same time, however, many concede they haven’t gotten there yet. The report said that 77% are still working on their finance data and analytics strategy, with an average anticipated timeline of two years for achieving their goals. Once these goals are completed, 25% expect they will be able to become more strategic advisors, 18% say they will get lower costs on operational expenses, and another 18% said they will improve capital allocation.

Only about 23% of organizations have a mature, data-driven finance function in place right now, though the rate is higher, 36%, among fast-growing companies with topline growth rates of more than 15%. More than half of these companies, 52%, are already developing centralized centers of excellence for better management of data and analytics. By contrast, just 23% of mid- and slow-moving firms have started to develop centers of excellence for data-driven finance.

“Against the current backdrop of economic and geopolitical volatility, technological disruption and sweeping changes in consumer behavior, the finance and accounting function has become a critical source of intelligence for guiding corporate strategy,” said Narasimha Kini, an executive vice president and business head of EXL’s emerging business unit, in a statement. “To unlock that intelligence, however, finance and accounting teams need sophisticated data and analytics capabilities that give them real-time insights and the ability to forecast across multiple different scenarios. Clearly, many pioneering firms are cracking that code with highly evolved data-driven finance functions, but many still have a very long way to go.”

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