Data, Privacy and Analytics are top priorities for finance teams

November 13, 2019

A new report by Protiviti has stated that data, privacy, analytics and customer service are the main priorities within the finance market. The report called ‘Today’s Finance Priorities: Security, Data, Analytics and Internal Customers’ states that CFO’s and other finance industry leaders are equally focused on strategic and operational issues.

The report explains that businesses are focused on innovative systems including robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, predictive analytics and cloud-based systems. According to the report, the top priorities for finance industry leaders are:

Security and privacy of data – 84%
Enhanced data analytics – 79%
Process improvement: process and data analytics – 75%
Changing demand and expectations of internal customers – 73%
Embracing new technologies – 73%
Internal controls – 73%
Accounting and finance implications of IT – 72%
Financial planning and analysis – 71%
Strategic planning – 71%
Profitability reporting and analysis – 70%

In addition to these high priorities are key areas identified by finance leader to enhance knowledge and capabilities over the next year:

Embracing new technologies – 73%
Recruiting and retaining talent – 70%
Leadership (withing the organization) – 69%
Working effectively with outside parties – 65%
Six Sigma/continuous improvement – 65%
Coaching/mentoring – 62%
Soft skills – 62%
Change management – 61%

Finance leaders are clearly taking a more active role in ensuring their business is protected against potential data attacks and other threats. The report highlights that CFOs are now taking a more active role in ensuring their business is completely protected against potential data attacks and other threats. Cyber Security is becoming a larger focus for many businesses. Representing the main finance position in business, CFOs have a lot of pressure in maintaining valuable information assets and avoiding any potential compliance or data privacy issues.
The Protiviti report highlights that continued and significant shifts in business priorities and the role of CFOs, driven largely by the increased emphasis on using data as a key resource. The report explains that finance leaders are more dedicated to meeting the increased expectations of internal customers. Finance executives are more concerned with data security, privacy and governance and ensuring financial planning and management reports generate more insights to stakeholders.

With new opportunities come new threats to businesses, including data breaches and it seems that business leaders are looking at their CFOs and finance leaders to implement the changes needed to tackle data security. Protiviti surveyed over 800 global finance leaders and 84% stated that data security and privacy were top priorities. Based on the number of data attacks affecting businesses today, it is no surprise that security and data privacy are viewed as key priorities for finance businesses. Chris Wright, managing director of Protiviti explains that a data breach can have severe financial implications and an impact on business reputation. As the number of cyberattacks increases, finance leaders need to ensure they have the budget and resources available to tackle security and data protection.

Over 70% of CFO and VPs of finance believe strategic planning is one of the key areas that need additional focus. This emphasises the need for finance members to focus on strategy, including daily operations, financial and transaction matters. The data-focused approach of today’s financial market makes the role of CFOs essential in delivering strategy, particularly when it comes to measuring trends and other patterns. Finance leaders are focused beyond financial issues, but also expected to generate insights that really transform and support business decisions. As a result, data analysis is critical and CFO customers are continually seeking a financial system that offers real-time information, detailed insights and enhanced analytics concerning the financial and operational performance of a business.

Approximately 80% of finance leaders pointed to data analytics as a top priority for finance in enhancing knowledge and improving their capabilities. Meeting rising demands and requirements of internal customers is a driving force finance team. Finance leaders want to really focus on security and data management capabilities and improve how these systems can meet the changing requirements of internal customers. The report suggests that failing to make clear progress in data protection and leveraging data insights could result in a potential failure in meeting strategic business expectations.

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