Data Analytics Adopters Brave Obstacles


    The challenges organizations confront in evangelizing, constructing, and deploying data analytics programs stood out in CFO’s annual IT survey. Called “Data and Analytics: The CFO’s Evolving Role,” the survey was conducted in January 2017 and garnered 202 respondents, of which about one-third were CFOs, one-third a different finance title, and one-third CEOs.

    Focus and Efficiency

    There’s little doubt that technology and systems also are prominent barriers to a highly effective data analytics program. They were mentioned by the most respondents, 34.6% (see Figure 4, below). The challenges include the need for:

    • Interoperability between financial and operating data
    • Structure, organization, and delivery of information in an agile, digestible format
    • The capability to roll up multiple ERP systems into a consolidated view


    Clearly, the technology and systems supporting data analytics are still falling short of the (possibly unattainable) ideal, which one executive described as “a low-cost system to report out the meaningful metrics and conclusions automatically.”

    But that doesn’t seem to be souring executives on putting the concepts and technologies into practice. One executive said, “I cannot think of anything [that is] not valuable with data analytics.” Commented another: “Data helps all decision-making.”


    Overcoming Resistance

    As CFO examined in “Master of All Metrics” (January/February 2017), data analytics capabilities naturally reside within the finance department, and they are also a means of spreading finance’s influence. How have things gone thus far? When asked if other parts of the organization see the finance function as having a highly effective data analytics program, 43.7% of respondents said “no”

    There are many factors that could breed discontent among the ranks. Certainly, many organizations still have execution problems. For example, 28.5% of executives answering the survey said data from across their organizations is not rolled up into a “single version of the truth” (see Figure 3, below). And 21.9% of respondents said their finance function does not systematically communicate data to business leaders, a failure that could easily weaken the clout of a data analytics program.

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