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Where does data analytics reside in a typical organization?

Roberto Canales's Profile

There is discussion amongst the CTO and Sales President that Finance should be a customer to BI rather than being the owner of analytics (Business Partner) to all functional groups. What does the rest of the world do?

Answers

Anonymous
(CFO/Board Advisor) |

Personally, I prefer for the CFO to be the executive "owner" of BI (aka FP&A). The CTO can be the executive "owner" of the technology/software platform, similar to ERP platforms, etc. Too often, when someone other than Finance "owns" the BI function, the numbers never seem to reconcile with the financial statements. Also, knowledge/ownership of the non-accounting metrics is essential for preparing the MD&A.

Kurt Steckel
Title: CEO
Company: Bison Analytics
(CEO, Bison Analytics) |

In my experience it depends on the purpose of the BI instance. If Sales wants it for general trending and to find opportunities, it's often cheaper and simpler for a non-financial group to own the implementation. It saves lot of time and effort tying back to the accounting system when the only purpose of the BI system is to show general trends. Often in these cases being within 1% or 2% is good enough and strikes the right balance between system cost and business need.

The clearest changeover occurs when commissions are calculated using the BI system. Then Finance needs to own it, without doubt. And if any financial analytics are calculated from the system, Finance should own it because they’ll need to justify any discrepancies. But there are plenty of sales and operational BI implementations where tie-back to accounting doesn’t need to be 100% and the system can still be very efficient and effective.

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

The way I see it is that Finance owns the numbers and Finance owns performance management. All frontline functions such as sales and operations shouldn't be bothered with data analytics as they need to run the business.

Therefore, BI naturally belongs to Finance and no other function. The worst thing you can do is to put it in IT. That will lead to a slow death of analytics in your company as IT is not able to drive anything with the numbers but simply develop the applications based on input from the business.

Ivan Makarov
Title: VP of Finance
Company: SmugMug
(VP of Finance, SmugMug) |

In our organization these exist in parallel. We have a team of business analysts and engineers who own their tool that serves BI (Looker), and finance owns financial statements and data produced by NetSuite. But we work together on reports, trends, financial data needs etc - so that the numbers produced by both departments make sense.

David Buley
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Association of Independent Schools of NS..
(Chief Financial Officer, Association of Independent Schools of NSW) |

I agree with Anders but would add that as Finance depts transition to be the provider of business insight as well as accounting and finance, it should own all functions pertaining to reporting and the analysis of those reported numbers. We recently had a similar situation to the one described, where at the insistence of the CIO the 'gun' data scientist that was hired resided with the IT team instead of the new research team, but because most departments didn't intuitively seek IT's help in analysis, he eventually became irrelevant and was stuck doing more database administration and report creation roles. The power grab by the CIO set back the firm's data and analytics skills by 12 months until the guy was 'rehomed' in the research dept before he resigned.

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