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CFOs bemoan skills gap in data integration: report

Eighty-two per cent of finance chiefs keen to homogenise data; only 24% feel team is ready

CFOs bemoan skills gap in data integration: report
The study is based on interviews with 576 CFOs from around the world.

The vast majority of chief financial officers recognise value in integrating enterprise-wide data, but relatively few have confidence in their organisation's ability to do so, according to industry research by IBM.

Eighty-two per cent would be keen to homogenise data, but only 24% "think their team is up to the task", according to IBM's "Pushing the Frontiers" report. The figures show a 205% increase in the gap between the importance of data and the ability to exploit its value since the question was first asked in 2005, showcasing a critical divide in the skills and capabilities for today's finance teams.

The study is based on interviews with 576 CFOs from around the world. Conducted by IBM's Institute of Business Value (IBV), the study found that finance chiefs' expectations of their teams have changed as technology as evolved.

"While macro-economic and market factors still lead the list of external forces [CFOs] expect to have the most impact on their enterprises in the near future, technology is now third on the list - up from fifth place in 2010," IBM said in a statement.

The research also identified an emerging subset of CFOs called Value Integrators, who stand out in terms of efficiency and analytical insight. An even smaller set, referred to as Performance Accelerators, represents CFOs who are even further ahead of their peers (70% more successful than Value Integrators), measured in terms of revenues and profits generated during the past three years.  

According to the study, a critical differentiator for these most successful CFOs is how they use data. While the average CFO relies on spreadsheets and intuition for the majority (66%) of their work, more than two-fifths (44%) of Performance Accelerators combine internal and external data to produce insights. As such, Performance Accelerators are more effective at conducting various forms of analysis including tracking and forecasting supply-chain financial data, planning and predicting resource capacity as well as conducting industry and competitor analysis.

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