Date posted: 23/08/2022

How to bolster the data maturity of your organisation

A new introductory guide aims to help accounting and finance professionals ramp up data analytics projects to inform decision-making in their organisations

In brief

  • Discover how to build a data strategy, key approaches to working with data and software options
  • Learn about the language of data
  • Understand different experiences of data analytics through eight corporate case studies

A mature data analytics capability is increasingly critical to successful businesses. It allows leaders to confidently embrace disruptive models, optimise operations, reduce risk and retain customers and employees, according to a new resource for CA ANZ members.

Data analytics for finance teams: an introduction is a starting point for CAs who may be looking to bolster the data maturity of their organisations. The 58-page guide complements CA ANZ’s existing resources and aims to bring a practical focus to the topic.

It summarises how to build a data strategy, explains key approaches to working with data and provides an overview of software and links to other resources to help CAs get started.

“Data informs great decisions,” says Cormac Denton CA, chair of the Corporate Sector Advisory Committee (CSAC) which helped put the guide together. “And CAs are well-placed to build organisation-wide data strategies and cultures.”

Denton, Head of Finance at Reveal — a New Zealand-based company that maps infrastructure underground — says CAs can drive change using financial and non-financial data to generate insights and impact.

Finance has got a role to play not only in terms of making the investment decision in data analytics, but in providing thought leadership around the value of data as an asset to the organisation.”
Chris Benthien, CEO of Australian consultancy DataDivers

Some CAs are already deeply involved in data projects, and others are stepping up to lead initiatives within the finance function and the wider business. 

If nothing else, the playbook will help CAs become more familiar with the language of data.

In many corporate settings, finance teams still grapple with big data. Too many organisations haven’t yet fully understood the importance of gathering and storing data so that it can be easily accessible to analysts.

The guide includes case studies from executives from eight companies who share insights on data projects.

Many organisations still have a siloed approach to data collection and use, says John Hoffman, CEO at Altis Consulting. They have a disconnect between systems for managing customer relationships, the supply chain and inventory. 

“Combining data across the business can deliver insights that could inform supply-chain partners or retailers how they could improve production or do things differently,” he says.

Chris Benthien, the CEO of Australian consultancy DataDivers.io, says accounting and finance professionals are a key to building organisations’ data analytics capabilities.

“Finance has got a role to play not only in terms of making the investment decision in data analytics, but in providing thought leadership around the value of data as an asset to the organisation.”

Perth-based AFG, for example, supports more than 3,500 mortgage brokers across the country. It recently implemented a customer retention strategy for brokers that predicts which customers are mostly likely to churn their loans - potentially doing business with other providers.

Brokers using its ‘Red Alerts’ system, based on a range of detailed data and complex algorithms, are twice as likely to retain a customer identified as a churn candidate than those who don’t use the system. 

For GPT, one of Australia’s largest property groups with almost $30 billion in assets and 500 employees, streamlining processes carried out in Excel provided the impetus to embrace a new approach to data.

“Our whole group consolidation for budgeting and forecasting was done in Excel,” says Rebekah Morgan CA, Head of Finance. “So producing a Group level budget or forecast took a long time, which meant it was hard to get a real time view of the numbers.” 

GPT embraced a new cloud-based platform and big data modelling tool, to build and expand the functionality the finance team already had — and more. Now the 80-member team is one of the heaviest data users together with the sustainability and sales teams.

Data analytics is a “golden opportunity” for accounting and finance professionals to become  game changers, says Tyler Caskey CA of Sydney firm TheBeanCounters.

“We can leverage our experience of working with and presenting financial data into other business areas, and provide people with live insights on their phones or computers whenever they need it.”

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