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Solidifying Your Role as a CFO Using Data Analytics

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FEI 2018 Financial Leadership Summit presenter Dale Tuttle highlights three areas of his presentation on data analytics, taking a closer look at the dashboard, cloud based data and data encryption.


Technology is constantly changing, becoming more powerful, cost effective and pervasive. There is a major focus on data-driven decision making and creating the modern, data-driven enterprise. Every industry is being impacted; finance is not immune and data technologies are transforming how financial executives work and fundamentally changing how businesses operate.

You hear a lot about becoming the data driven enterprise. So what are some of these technologies? How do they work? What should I worry about? Using these technologies will improve your financial and operational decision making.  Instead of waiting for month end closing data using traditional reporting systems, modern data tools will give you daily snapshots of your financial performances and how you are progressing against targets.

The Dashboard

At my workplace, we have a dashboard that tells us what we're good at and how we're going to do for the month -- all tied into our financial system. It updates several times a day so that once the new information is available, you have an up-to-date, real time view of your financial performance. It used to be, “I'll know two weeks after we close how we did.”  Now there is some data that is going to linger.  But if you're a professional services firm, and you deliver hours to your customers, you'll know how many hours you have delivered up until that day. Using this real time data and analytics, you can determine what changes might need to be made faster than ever before.

Understanding cloud based data

So where's my data? The data that you are connecting might be an on-premise system, but the analysis is taking place in the cloud. These transactions are secure, and your data is secure, but you have to understand that your data is being leveraged in the cloud. 

Data privacy rules also apply and some people have restrictions and their data must remain in the United States -- it can't be analyzed anywhere else. It can't leak out or be stored outside the country.  And while some people aren’t comfortable having their data in the cloud, we like to tell them that in order to take advantage of the latest tools and realize the most capability, you need to be in the cloud.  Artificial intelligence is a cloud based tool, which means your data must go into the cloud to utilize that tool. We're perfectly comfortable with that, as we know how to secure it.   We're comfortable with the security regimes that are in place by the providers. 

And even though you’re in the cloud, you can restrict where it goes. I'll use the example of Microsoft. You can restrict data to the United States, you can even restrict data to states or regions. And that's important because then you know that your data is not going outside the country. If you’re operating in the European Union, you must comply with GDP.  

Encrypt your data

Even if you’re on-premises, there are things that you can do to secure your data for analysis. One of the biggest things that people forget to do is to encrypt their data at rest. What I find ironic is a lot of customers who are reluctant to move to the cloud -- mostly for data security and privacy considerations – don’t realize that their data will be more secure in the cloud because by default, Microsoft data is encrypted at rest. If their data is in the cloud, it’s encrypted.  Which means that if somebody breaks into your data while it’s in the cloud -- which is very unlikely -- the data will be meaningless to them.

It's a brave new world. And financial executives need to know that they can participate in this new world and benefit from it. Looking for more information about Data Analytics and Information Technology Programs? Explore Kaplan’s live courses, powered by Loscalzo Institute »

 Dale Tuttle is a Partner and the Practice Leader for Withum Digital.  He will be presenting Solidifying Your Role as a CFO Using Data Analytics at the FEI 2018 Financial Leadership Summit.