Date posted: 16/09/2020 6 min read

Using analytics to drive business forward

The Analytics in Finance and Accounting paper examines the benefits of using forward-looking analytics data, and the risks finance teams face in not embracing these tools.

In Brief

  • Surveys indicate most finance teams still focus on analysing past performance
  • The report recommends balancing backward and forward-looking analysis
  • Finance departments need to make the case for investing in technology and skills development to better use analytics

Most finance teams still focus largely on past performance, while modern data analytics permits greater strategic decision making, the new Analytics in Finance and Accountancy paper shows.

This paper examines how finance and accountancy teams can use forward-looking analytics to achieve greater insights and provide better business value.

The increasing volume, variety and complexity of available data leads to ever-more sophisticated tools to use this data, revealing patterns and trends that can drive better business decisions. But are finance teams making the most of these rich sources of information?

The report’s authors found that most of the finance teams surveyed used descriptive analytics and Microsoft Excel to analyse past results, while less than half used forward-looking analytics or visualisation. They say there is now an opportunity to move away from looking in the rear-view mirror and instead drive business by looking at what may be coming.

The report argues that predictive and prescriptive analytics are tools for finance teams to ensure their relevance. 

Finance teams can leverage increasingly sophisticated tools and technology to look for efficiencies, new revenue and customer opportunities.

This forward-focus is increasingly becoming a key responsibility for finance teams. Marketing departments have long held the lead in using analytics and data for strategic decision making, and as the guardians of significant business data, finance departments are being challenged to undertake similarly strategic approaches.

The report identifies the skills and technology needed to make the most of analytics. Siloed data and ageing technologies are significant barriers to useful analytics, and these areas need investment. Cloud-based storage, sharing and analytics tools are under-utilised by finance teams, and the benefits of these systems remain largely untapped.

Technology is not the only area that needs to be updated. The report identifies other key skills to support the use of analytics, and while many are not new, the weightings and combinations of these skills are changing.

Problem solving is a vital skill but requires an understanding of how to extract, manipulate, interpret and present data as finance teams need to be able to articulate their insights effectively and creatively.

For more insights into how finance teams can add value by using analytics, download the full report below.

Analytics in Finance and Accounting

This global research explores how analytics affects finance and accountancy teams within organisations, as well as the roles and skills of professional accountants.

Download PDFAbout Analytics in Finance and Accounting