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Exploring data and analytics trends in controllership

Part two in our Center for Controllership™ analytics blog series

In the Center for Controllership analytics blog series, explore the analytics trends in controllership that are shaping the journey to a new analytics framework.

Aligning the current value and potential of advanced tools

March 30, 2020­
A blog post by Mike Seng, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

The journey to a controllership function that is more empowered by data and analytics advancements begins with an understanding of the potential benefits and valuable applications of new tools in controllership. The next step is to align the promise of advanced data tools with the value they actually provide.

With an abundance of new analytics tools available, coupled with a continuous influx of new offerings into the marketplace, finance and accounting professionals may wonder how the controllership function can better align the application of these advanced tools to the controllership function and overall business strategy.

Previously, we highlighted the benefits and applications of data and analytics and how they enhance the role of controllership. Now we will take a deeper dive into recent trends in controllership and data and analytics advancements, how controllers and professionals can apply these advancements, and steps to get started on the journey to a more advanced analytics strategy.

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Analytics trends and new advancements in controllership

Examples of analytics tools
Cloud computing: Agility and efficiency with everything-as-a-service
Robotic process automation and cognitive automation (RPA/CA): Faster, cost-effective, and better data
In-memory computing: Management of more information about more transactions
Cognitive computing: Automated insights via natural language generation
Advanced analytics: Deeper insights, better predictions
Visualization: Making information real-time and accessible

A robust digital ecosystem can help support finance and controllership to help generate, process, analyze, and consume data in a more united and insightful way. Emerging digital tools are driving innovation in finance analytics right now—but more innovative solutions are on their way, with even more advancements on the horizon.

Where we are: New tools in controllership

What do data and analytics tools offer right now? Many organizations currently benefiting from analytics tools are most likely at this point in their analytics journey.

Current analytics benefits include:

  • More efficient process-driven tools that align top-down targets and bottom-up plans
  • Basic consideration of macro trends
  • The ability to link current company key performance indicators to overall business strategic priorities
  • Gather and analyze role-based performance metrics
  • RPA for faster and more cost-effective datasets

Emerging data and analytics advancements: Tools for tomorrow

What are data and analytics tools starting to offer? Advanced analytics tools are continuously being introduced into the marketplace—providing innovative solutions and new technologies that may help organizations keep up with transformation. Some organizations may be stepping into this point in their journey, and some may already be here. Many organizations may already find themselves on the cusp of these advancements.

Some potential benefits of analytics tools tomorrow:

  • Use of multiple external data sources and indices 
  • Advanced statistical driver-based methods, which help in automation of standard reports and dashboards
  • Performance reports and analyses focused on forward-looking actions
  • Multichannel availability and access to information

Looking ahead: Analytics tools in the future

Analytics trends in controllership range from artificial intelligence to machine learning. We are just starting to unlock the potential of advanced technology, with many revolutionary data and analytics technologies available but inconsistently implemented as they continue to evolve. The speed of innovation ensures that inconsistency won’t last, and the transformative tools of the future will be here faster than many may predict.

Here is a look into a likely future of advanced data and analytics:

  • The ability to incorporate unstructured data into analytics
  • Self-learning and machine learning models that offer predictive data and automated driver analysis
  • Automatically generated data visualization with natural language narratives
  • Dynamic, interactive, multichannel availability of data with access to insights on-demand

A path forward: How to get started on your advanced analytics journey

How can organizations get from today to the future? Regardless of where you are on the road to advanced data and analytics, consider these steps for getting started on the journey to a new analytics framework that can help maximize the benefits of emerging technologies and evolve the role of controllership.

A path to advanced analytics

  • Explore the "art of the possible."
  • Identify a list of "crunchy questions."
  • Develop a data gap assessment.
  • Create a wireframe.
  • Develop a proof of concept using just one analytics tool.
  • Make a technology gap assessment.
  • Create a roadmap for implementation.

Now, to start the journey, here are some important reminders and insights to help guide the road to a new data and analytics framework and prepare for trends in controllership.

When you think about 'think big, act small,' think about the art of the possible with an unconstrained view, without worrying whether you have the data, the technology, tools, or resources. Picture everything underneath the sun. After that, identify some main priorities and start with small steps. Simple or small but impactful solutions can be successes that serve as building blocks for the big picture.

—Mike Seng, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP

  • "Think big, act small."
  • Strive for one source of truth.
  • Understand the user experience to improve adoption.
  • Choose clarity over certainty.

Read part one in our series to get an overview of the benefits and applications of advanced data and analytics tools within controllership.

To hear more about advanced analytics for controllership, including industry discussions and use cases, listen to our full Dbriefs webcast: Controllership analytics: From data to value.

Visit the Controllership Insights blog for additional blog posts.

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