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Author's profile photo Raj Manghnani

CFOs: Why bytes, not beans, are the future – An Interview with Arthur Gitajn, CFO SAP Canada

Financial executives have long used spreadsheets as a tool for business analytics, and it seems many still remain reliant on their rows and columns. Many use spreadsheets successfully to grow their business and find spreadsheets an appropriate tool to reach good business decisions. However, using separate sheets for budgeting, forecasting, reporting and analysis can result in disparate data sets from areas such as finance, operations, sales and human resources. The work is manual and can drain time and resources. The Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation undertook research that suggests that despite the wide variety of data analytics platforms in existence, many organizations, including public companies and large companies, rely heavily on spreadsheets even if they are also using other tools such as business intelligence software or even accounting software. This is in part because spreadsheets offer the capability for custom work specific to their organizations that may not be offered by other platforms. 78% of Canadian businesses still using spreadsheets as their primary source of business analytics, study finds and only 29% ready to invest in modern business analysis tools. This is a worrisome trend, while high-tech finance is potentially disruptive to CFOs who rely on spreadsheets, new business analytics also offer them the opportunity to lead in their firms. Arthur Gitajn, CFO SAP Canada, shared his views with The Globe and Mail. “What [CFOs] need are business systems that are intelligent, that go beyond automation to make predictive suggestions, that are integrated to customers, to suppliers and are immediate, in real time” Mr. Gitajin says. Read the full news briefing FEI Canada, together with the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation and SAP, is about to release a new study, Data Analytics in Canada, looking at the changing role of technology in the work of CFOs.Part of the study’s findings worry Mr. Gitajn, because 92 per cent of the CFOs and top Canadian financial executives surveyed said they still rely on spreadsheets – 70 per cent in the case of companies with fewer than 500 employees. This can limit a company’s ability to analyze its business and grow.

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