SaaS Brief

The 2017 Journey for the Data Driven CFO

Few organizations have the data science resources of Apple, Facebook, Google, or Amazon, but any size organization can learn from the approaches that they have taken.

Based on my analysis in this series of posts, here are six practical steps – which can be taken by small and medium-sized organizations – to help plan the journey to becoming a more data-driven organization.

Step 1: Your GLplus Strategy

  • Make your general ledger the center of gravity for your data strategy and add both internal and related external data sources using what are commonly called “Statistical Accounts”.

Step 2: Monetize Your Data

  • Just like you get cashback and rewards in your personal life, you can monetize your AP stream.
  • By transitioning a percentage of checks to card payments, you benefit by reducing the cost of cutting a check to zero and from the cashback or membership rewards you receive.

Step 3: Your Cloud Strategy 

  • Make the cloud your focus for both accounting and analytics, integrating access to both internal and external data sources.
  • Don’t drag multiple sources of big data to your desktop for analysis – use the cloud analytics integrated into your accounting software.

Step 4: Twitterize Your Chart of Accounts 

  • Apply dimensions to your COA.
  • Use dimensions to slice and dice your COA.
  • Develop real-time dashboards to access your COA.
  • Develop dashboards that access both internal and external data.

Step 5: Get a Cloud Strategy That Can Grow as Your Data and Analytics Needs Grow

  • Performing analytics against big data sets needs state-of-the-art database and analytics technology that runs close to the data in the cloud.
  • The mega-companies share resources (and the cost of those resources) across departments using cloud infrastructures. The only economic way for a small or medium-sized business to get access to the latest database and analytics technology is to aggregate the cost with other companies in the cloud.

Step 6: Invisible AI

  • One machine learning expert said something to me that stuck: “Analytics is about asking the questions you know to ask (and are curious about). AI is about asking the millions of questions and combinations of questions that you hadn’t thought about.”
  • Drive your business on dashboards and wait for invisible AI to come to you. Focus on building the foundation of data that will fuel your AI engine.

I hope you enjoyed this six-part blog series.

Note: This is part six of a six-part series for CFOs who are thinking about how they can optimize their business by being more data driven.  Here is the full series of blog posts:


• Part 1, introduction: Reading for the Data-Driven CFO
• Part 2, big data and the general ledger: “GLplus” – Making Your General Ledger the Center of Gravity for Your Data Strategy
• Part 3, dashboards and analytics: Twitterize Your Chart of Accounts
• Part 4, invisible AI: Invisible AI: A Glance at Your iPhone and Its iBrain
• Part 5, AI and accounting: The Power of AI for Accounting
• Part 6, strategy and conclusion: The 2017 Journey for the Data-Driven CFO

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