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Robert Gothan, CEO and founder of Accountagility – the leading business process management specialist

Robert Gothan

The Strata + Hadoop World Conference last month saw the data industry’s most influential experts and strategists come together to discuss the most recent developments in Big Data and mark its importance. Traditionally known for being powerful in larger corporations, Big Data has boomed in popularity over recent years, and is now accessible to any business that wants to benefit from analysing trends and patterns.

With this in mind, many individuals are now asking themselves: could Big Data be useful for my company?  If you’re wondering whether this kind of information could bring value to your business, you must first determine what benefits it would bring to the organisation – and also how to communicate these benefits to your CFO.

Pitching to the CFO

To pitch the idea of Big Data to your CFO successfully, it is crucial to start with a business case model – outlining the costs and benefits, and detailing specifically why Big Data would work for your company. It is also vital to have a clear idea of how a Big Data project would be implemented within your particular company, and what that implementation would involve.

For example, introducing Big Data will need to be weighed against existing or proposed work in terms of priority. If Finance is already working on a list of outstanding items, then proposing an activity that isn’t associated with their needs should probably be saved for a more convenient time. Also, Big Data is unlikely to benefit Finance immediately, so it will be crucial to highlight the long term goals and how it can be used to improve the business as a whole.

It is also worth remembering that Big Data has complex technological roots, so finance teams are unlikely to have an understanding of all its uses and exactly how it works. CFOs work in numbers, so this must be taken into account when discussing the collection, processing and analysis of data.

You should also explain how this information can be translated into spreadsheets, graphs and graphics to track the business’ progress and development. After all, one of the CFO’s primary jobs is to search and collate a wide range of information on a daily basis, so it should be made clear that Big Data can help to streamline this process.

Data details

When making a business case for Big Data, it’s also a good idea to highlight the need for regulatory compliance. Regular and accurate reporting is now vital for modern businesses, with firms facing increasingly stringent rules and tougher sanctions for failing to comply. Big Data can help here by highlighting patterns, trends and behaviours that could be difficult to detect otherwise.

With intelligent analysis, Big Data can also provide greater clarity and insight into many different areas of the business, so that the company can compare itself against competitors when making key decisions. When used in this way, the ability to collect and compare large data sets can give much greater visibility of the overall market, as well as a better understanding of where your business fits within it. This way, CFOs will be able to make informed decisions about investments and expansion.

As with any business case, cost is likely to be another major consideration for the CFO. For example, some firms may find that Big Data projects are more economical when outsourced, or conducted via the cloud. A phased approach can also be effective, which involves gradual data migration over a period of time to aid synchronisation. Transferring data in this manner may seem time consuming, but it can help to avoid some of the pitfalls of large-scale data migration. All of these options will need to be considered for your presentation to the CFO, but having an idea of which would suit your business the best at a particular time will help in persuading Finance to support the idea.

 Big benefits

Above all else, the key aspect to consider before pitching to your CFO is what Big Data will give back to your business. Will it meet the needs of the business as a whole and bring significant benefits – and if so, how?

These questions should be answered in your initial pitch to the CFO, who will undoubtedly be open to any idea that could help improve results and efficiency. As such, a detailed, informed overview of the benefits that Big Data can bring to the company will ultimately be the best way to get your CFO on board with this initiative.

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