CFOs and finance leaders today have more data available to them than ever before. This data brings huge opportunities for those who can harness it to improve the speed and accuracy of decision making. A recent IDC study predicted that “by 2020, organizations able to analyze all relevant data and deliver actionable information will achieve an extra $430 billion in productivity benefits over their less analytically oriented peers.”
Unfortunately, collecting, modeling, scoring, and analyzing millions of pieces of data with hundreds of different attributes can be an arduous task for even the most data-driven finance professional.
At Microsoft, we are leveraging our deep heritage in productivity to empower finance leaders with intuitive and – dare we say it? – fun tools for the data tasks that lay before them. We envision a future where finance leaders can not only synthesize all the data they have from disparate sources but also visualize and interact with it in new ways. What does the future of data visualization look like for today’s modern finance leader? We have a few ideas.
1. End-to-end Visualization
The future of successful data visualization starts with establishing a single unified view of your business. As organizations grow, the data they produce typically scales with it. Expanding an enterprise across multiple countries and many lines of business requires finance leaders to first put in place systems that connect data, organize it, and share it in standard ways. ERP systems, like Microsoft Dynamics, can deliver these end-to-end insights by providing cross-department teams with dashboards designed specifically for the various roles in the company.
2. Data Visualization For All
After implementing systems to manage and standardize data, the next step toward the future of data visualization is equipping everyone in an organization with self-service tools that surface meaningful insights quickly. For many finance professionals, Excel is the tool of choice for day-to-day data management projects. Though it's been an integral part of businesses for years, the modern Excel is much more powerful than its predecessors. Today’s Excel can take millions of rows of data and convert it into touch-enabled, interactive visual data that can be embedded into PowerPoint. It can also integrate with many popular business intelligence tools, like Microsoft Power BI, Microsoft Dynamics business solutions, and solutions from vendors such as Salesforce, SAP and Oracle to uncover deeper insights. This flexibility makes it possible for everyone, from the data-savvy to the data-novice, to query and visualize the data they need to get their jobs done.
3. Predictive Analytics
Examining the current data of an organization is only one piece of the data visualization puzzle, however. Finance leaders also need to predict and view where their business is headed. This means tapping into machine learning algorithms, like those offered in Microsoft Azure, to forecast and visualize future trends. From predicting regional market economic conditions to determining future investment scenarios, machine learning algorithms can provide the underlying intelligence necessary to visualize the financial future.
4. An Augmented Finance Reality
Imagine if data visualization for finance wasn’t just for PCs and mobile devices anymore. The augmented reality (AR) that was once relegated to only a gamer’s dream is now rapidly becoming a commercial reality. And while we don’t see any finance leaders projecting financial charts on boardroom walls using augmented reality headsets just yet, hold onto your HoloLens because the future of financial data visualization definitely has some disruptive AR changes ahead.
With the rise of big data and the Internet of Things, finance leaders are busier than ever managing vast quantities of data—making innovative data visualization technologies a greater priority. By selecting technology vendors that not only harness data but also empower everyone in their organization to securely access it, finance leaders can drive more informed decision making. Disruption is all around us and finance leaders who embrace a future forward approach to data visualization have the power to lead their organization into the next decade and beyond.
To learn more about Microsoft’s offerings for the finance professional, visit http://www.microsoft.com/finance. Also, register today to attend the virtual launch of the new Microsoft Dynamics AX and learn how this latest cloud release of Microsoft enterprise ERP solution can help take your business to the next level.
IDC, FutureScape: Worldwide Big Data and Analytics 2016 Predictions, November 4, 2015