According to a small global survey, firms without strong data intelligence missed opportunities to drive broad top- and bottom-line growth.

In a Mar 2021 online survey of more than 260 CFOs in private and public organizations with 500 to 5,000+ employees in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the US, France, Germany, and the UK, data management and analysis was the biggest area of concern for the respondents throughout the pandemic: the lack of data insights had caused challenges for organizations rushing to make informed, fast decisions in the ongoing uncertainty.

In addition, the study looked at CFOs were adapting their finance digital strategy to improve readiness for future change. In the year where many organizations were forced to remotely close the books for the first time due to stay-at-home orders for employees, 19% of the respondents only had automated nearly all their finance processes and were currently handling financial reporting digitally.

With the majority of organizations in the survey undergoing digital transformation, CFOs also reported gaps in their data, ultimately affecting performance over the past year. The lack of data to make critical business decisions impacted product launches, according to 28% of respondents, with 24% citing missed financial forecasts, and 17% citing misaligned resource investments.

Other findings

The survey commissioned by Workday Inc unveiled other insights among the respondents, including:  

  • 49% of respondentssaid their organization’s biggest gap over the past year was the ability to execute with accurate, timely data for quick, informed decisions
  • 50% of respondents said they made the most progress over the past 12 months closing the data gap by prioritizing intelligent data foundations (creating a single source of data for finance, worker, and operations) and advanced analytics for better decision making
  • 60% in the survey were investing in reimagining finance operations in the cloud and deploying AI and ML solutions to address finance digital transformation
  • Environment, social and governance issues (29%) and Diversity & Inclusion issues (26%) were listed as emerging topics that businesses were most focused on prioritizing beyond technology, ranking higher than cybersecurity and cryptocurrency

According to the firm’s Senior Vice President (Accounting, Tax, and Treasury) Barbara Larson: “A lack of insights during the pandemic resulted in missed opportunities for companies to drive top and bottom line growth across a variety of areas. And the real gap CFOs identified was not just data—but timely, decision-ready data.”

By tapping on digital transformation, organizations can leverage intelligent data platforms to bring financial, people, and operational information together in a single system. This can result in a resilient foundation for gaining actionable insights and competitive advantage.