Data Analytics : towards a 360-degree finance function?
by Eric LEROY, CEO of Nell'Armonia
Throwback to the Oracle Forum Business Analytics & Big Data 2017 event, which has gathered 250 decision-makers around Big Data & Analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and IoT (Internet of Things) innovations.
Data Analytics and Big Data reinforce the startegic role of the financial functions
The Nell'Armonia team, composed of 150 highly experienced specialists on performance management, has accompanied for 10 years, more than 250 financial departments in France and in Europe in order to help them to structure, optimize and equip their decision support processes: reporting, consolidation, budgeting and planning...
This proximity with financial departments has enabled us to be at the front line of a real shift in the way they consider and think the management and the analysis of information inside the entreprise.
A shift driven by the awareness of CFOs who, to be more relevant in their corporate guides role, have to get out of a mostly financial analytical approach to open themselves to 360-degree analyses integrating all the information that circulates inside and outside the organisation and that daily affects their business.
Thus, for few months, we have been facing a certain number of initiatives and new projects, often sponsored by the CFO, which radically get out of the "classical" dated and standardised reporting dashboard analysing at D-day plus five or even plus ten. Innovative projects orientate themselves towards much more thorough analyses, especially targeted on the most critical issues of the organisation. To resolve the latter more efficiently, you need to analyze and anticipate them but also simulate the impact of corrective actions.
Few examples of Data Analytics projects:
For example today, with one of our clients in the insurance industry, the decision analysis orientates itself towards behavioural analysis of insured persons in order to detect termination risks, with the aim of boosting the turnover.
Another example concerns a main actor of telecoms, where we had to realise the cross-analysis between the billing information from the financial systems and the meteorological information in order to prevent the failures risks, while reducing the maintenance costs.
These projects bring very tangible and convincing results amounting to several million euros of realized savings.
How to get around drags and move from "traditional" Business Intelligence to "actual" B.I.?
Despite this groundswell, many CFOs still hesitate to go for it, held by the heaviness, high costs and technical complexity image linked to this type of project.
Here are 3 golden rules we applied with our clients so that their Big Data projects succeed, while respecting their IT budgets.
1. Start small & focus
Because those projects bring into the game new techniques, new project methodologies, and sometimes new technologies, it is crucial to give ourselves the means to understand them in order to control costs and deadlines, before to get launch into a major project.
Thus, our first golden rule is to start in "START SMALL" mode, it means by focusing the project on a very specific question and on a limited perimeter, an entity, a region or a country.
For example, if you want to sharpen your cash-flow forecasts, applying the START SMALL rule could consist on first focusing on the targeted analysis of the sales evolution impact on the clients encashments forecast. Which is already a complex matter because a true 360-degree vision is asked between data from ERP (billing), CRM (sales forecasting), marketing automation tools (campaigns), ... as well as more and more correlations are asked with e-reputation data from social networks.
2. Pragmatism with tools
The second golden rule is to begin those projects with a reasonable and pragmatic approach about the technological aspects.
Before making a complete go-round of the market of Big Data and Data visualisation technologies, you need to identify the available tools in your company, because most of the time, a good multidimensional technology is perfectly suited to launch that type of projects.
The Oracle Essbase technology thus perfectly fulfills the criteria to approach that kind of projects.
3. Consider those projects in the cloud
Our last golden rule is to consider the deployment of those projects in the cloud.
Indeed, the cloud offers a real possibility to entirely outsource the technical complexity of that kind of project and enter in a cost equation which could evolve among the "on demand" possibilities in the cloud.
The arrival of Essbase in the cloud represents then a real value in the deployment of that type of project.