Recent CFO Research found that finance executives believe line-of-business managers have no trouble accessing critical data, but they need to work closely with their colleagues in finance to derive meaning from the data and turn it into timely actions that improve business results.

Finance chiefs are looking for tools that point the user to clues about “why” the data is trending a certain way. They are also looking for tools that turn those clues into key facts that strategically redirect corporate strategy right away, without waiting for the month, quarter, or year to close.

More than half of the survey respondents agree that their companies’ line-of-business managers have difficulty using information systems to identify and understand the data they need to make effective decisions. Some systems produce enormous quantities of highly precise data without parsing the data to determine what is useful for decision making. In many ways, a mountain of perfect data is less useful than no data at all, as the finance team must spend valuable time trying to figure out a way to sort and sift for business insights.

Almost nine in ten of the senior finance executives know that they need to improve their ability to deliver forward-looking, predictive analytics to have a chance of meeting their growth targets. Rarely does a survey speak with such clarity about a need that remains largely unmet in many finance functions. And lastly, more than three-quarters of finance chiefs agree that better information reporting and visualization would help line-of-business managers make better decisions in general.

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Bottom-line: Finance functions very capable of straightforward reporting need to add a forward-looking, analytical capability that supports their firm’s strategic business decision making. Otherwise, the competition gains ground.

*To view the full report, download here.

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