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Former Member
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I’ve just been reading a report from CFO Research and it seems there's a major consensus within the business community – companies need to invest in technology to ensure they grow and remain profitable in the future. The firms that don't will start being left behind, and at a severe disadvantage in the long-term.

I speak with experience of what I see and hear. From interactions with customers, I know that if a company has a board with people that are united, as well as a long-term vision – they will be successful. If a firm has a strategy where they are simply sticking to the short-term, relying on IT departments to come up with best-of-breed solutions, or continue to invest into developing bespoke systems, you have to worry. This might be outdated and far more expensive than it should be.

In terms of the technology, you may have heard a lot of talk around the cloud and big data. It’s a global phenomenon, and there's no doubt that unity around IT investment into this technology, as well as real time computing, will drive the future growth of companies.

My advice to companies is that they must not ignore the future of technology – we’ll see it come sooner or later, and at an accelerated pace. I used the example of the cloud in a previous blog – a hugely significant technology and genuinely game-changing – but I've seen companies avoid it because they simply don’t understand it, or they might deny this is the future.

And the firms that have been risk-averse, insulated, adopting a strategy of avoidance, will have problems in the long-run competing with businesses that have the right technology integrated into their systems. Thinking about the future will put you in good stead.

The need for future predictions

Look at predictive analytics – the general consensus is that without it, companies will struggle to grow profitably. It's crucial to the business, and well established that better information reporting and data visualisation with the forward  looking touch will help line-of-business managers make better decisions.

There’s a demand from managers to access data quickly and easily. A realisation that the information can help them reach their growth targets if systems were easier to use. They're looking to analyse situations quickly, and make decisions fast enough to benefit the business positively.

The forward-thinking around this type of technology often comes from the finance function. That makes sense – deriving real-time, sophisticated insights from complex data will support better financial analysis, planning and recommendations to the business.

Changing the company culture

Analytics shouldn’t be restricted to the finance function. Companies will be much better served in having analytics as a commodity across the entire business. The future lies in everybody being aware of the power of analytics without finance being the driver. We need to enable a company culture where everybody understands the more effective decision-making that data can support.

I think that some companies are very advanced when it comes to this view of data and analytics, but many are not. And I understand the challenges very well – even if you're an inquisitive company with bright leadership, integrating the technology you might need is a big task and might be a challenge.

But what I'm finding is that there is a common understanding of the global challenges, and that they need to be addressed very quickly. The good news is that it looks like companies are aware of what they need to do – as ever, the value will be in the right level of investment and effective execution.

I would love to hear your comments in the box below and you can also download the research paper in full here.