Corporate Finance Strategy Webinar: Expanding Finance's Strategic Role

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Corporate Finance Strategy WebinarExpanding Finance's Strategic Role: How to Use Analytics to Align Business and Drive Success webinar

Business Analytics is at the forefront of technology investments in 2012. Companies are looking to analytics to provide competitive advantage by enabling better, faster, more consistent decisions throughout their organizations. Finance is well positioned to lead this charge and can capitalize on this opportunity to expand its role far beyond FP&A and accounting. To succeed in this effort, Finance professionals will need to identify and structure the mission, metrics, processes and users in order to deliver impactful BI results.

This Corporate Finance Strategy Webinar video is from the Proformative webinar "Expanding Finance's Strategic Role" held on August 16, 2012.  The webinar features a presentation from Paul Staelin, VP of Customer Success and co-Founder, Birst.


Corporate Finance Strategy Webinar


John: "Okay. We have a number of objectives for today's events. They are all unsurprisingly revolving around the area of analytics and how you can use data within your organization and how your other business users can make the most of your company's data or analytics and make better decisions.

All right, so enough of John, let's get onto today's Corporate Finance Strategy Webinar speaker. Paul Staelin is my pleasure to present. He is the Vice President of Customer Success and co-Founder of Birst. Paul is responsible for ensuring customer success across the customer lifecycle. And oversees Birst's product management,
professional services, support, education and operations.

Previously, Paul built and managed Siebel's sales and analytics product line, overseeing it's growth from start to over $40 million in revenue. Paul holds a B.S. from Yale, a Master's from MIT in electrical engineering, and an MBA from Stanford where he was an R.J. Miller scholar.

Paul, it's my pleasure to have you on this morning. Thanks so much, and please take it away.

Paul: Great. Thank you, John. And thank you everyone for joining us today. I'm grateful for the opportunity to chat with you a little bit about a topic that I care deeply about. Which is helping companies drive more insight and make better decisions.

And we're going to talk through a little bit today, and please ask questions as we go, I know we'll address them at the end, but this is intended to be a time for you to a) hear my thoughts on the topic, but b) I'd love to hear your questions and turn this into a relatively open session. But again, that will be a little bit more towards the end. So
we'll talk through a little bit about the goal, some of the challenges companies face in turning data into action and insight.

I'll walk through maturity framework that I've seen over the last decade plus in the business. In terms of where companies are and their ability to turn data into action and insight. How you can make progress. Some of the best practices that I've seen, and give you just a couple examples of what I need and show some of the impact that you can have for those companies that are doing this well. And then obviously, we'll wrap up and turn it over to you folks for questions.

I've been in the software space and the analytics space for a long time. This chart always looks similar but the numbers on the left keep getting ridiculously huge. I'm sure five, ten years from now, they'll be looking at a similar chart, but the 2011 will be the tiny little bar on the left.

In general, and this is nothing new, but the amount of data that we as a society and an economy, the amount of data that we're tracking for transactions, for how people are engaging in applications and kind of what's happening out there is just exploding. There's more and more data capturing more and more information about more and more things that we do. In terms of buying, selling, talking to people, activities, contacts. And this presents both a tremendous opportunity but also a lot of challenges,
right. If you can actually understand and use data well.

The reason Zynga was the leading online game company was that they figured out a way to track which hoe people were buying on Farmville and be able to turn that into revenue better. They were just smarter about turning that into a business.

There is a tremendous growth in data. Tremendous challenges. These scales keep getting bigger and bigger. Companies are always struggling with how to do this. And we'll talk about some of the ways that I've seen work well for this and some of the value of doing so.

In general that volume of data is a tremendous opportunity and a challenge. Fundamentally, as our economy has gotten a lot faster, in general. Information moves a lot faster, communication's a lot faster, the pace of business is a lot faster. That places a lot of burden on the management team and decision makers in every organization to be able to quickly gather, look at, understand data and make better decisions so not only does the business move quickly, you can respond quickly.

This pace is interesting in a couple of ways, because it's not only the environment that's changing pretty quickly, but how you want to manage your business. The types of things you want to do, the decisions you need to make, things that become strategic are fairly dynamic.

Your requirements of how you analyze the data, not just the pace of the data, but the way that you analyze the data similarly is going to change very quickly. The requirements of what you need to be analyzing this year for your business are very different than last year.

And they could be very different next quarter. Just as the universe and the general economic pace has gotten to a very, very high clock speed. You need current data. You can't be months and months behind. You need to be looking at data that reflects your business very recently, if not right now.

So that's one challenge. One of the other challenges is basically getting a real understanding of how your business is operating in that kind of environment and being able to diagnose what the roadblocks are, what the challenges are and to find out where you're doing well, so you can replicate best practices requires you to have kind of a more holistic view of your business.
The old stovepipe departmental model of business is long gone. It's just too slow. It may be very efficient, but it's not very effective. The pace is too slow. Creating that kind of more integrated organization requires a much more holistic view of your business. And it requires that you not get a printed report once a month that's just a spreadsheet that you would then have to go ask, "What's going on?"

You're going to have to be able to not only combine multiple data systems from multiple departments into that holistic view. You're going to need to be able to interact with it and dig into it to figure out what's going on. Slice and dice and provide kind of a mechanism for zeroing in on those areas that are problems, those areas that are opportunities, those areas that are bright spots and to be able to do so very quickly.

End users can do this without needing to wait three weeks. When they say, "[Ax], this is very interesting, what's going on here?" And having to wait two weeks for someone to come back with the report to show you something just is not going to be fast enough. So you need a much more interactive way to kind of browse and go through that data.

Editor's Note: Proformative offers a wide variety of both live and recorded webinars, including but not limited to Lease Accounting Webinar, Order-To-Cash Process Webinar, Rolling Forecasts Webinar, Cloud Based Consolidation Webinar and Revenue Recognition Compliance Webinar.

This brings us to our first polling question, so I will hand it back over to John.

John: Great. Thank you very much. So this is the first of three polling questions that we have today. I'm launching it right now. And this is actually, of course a very fitting question given today's subject. And as I mentioned, we will revisit this afterwards, when we get into the Q and A.

So, if you're here for CPE credit, you need to answer the polling question. But even if you're not, [inaudible 07:21] take a quick look and let us know, and then we'll all see where one another sits when we get to the Q and A section today.

Remember, this is all anonymous. No names, no [inaudible 07:33]. Also a quick reminder to ask questions via the question area of your [inaudible 07:38] webinar control panel at any time and we will make sure that we get to those questions either today if we have enough time, or online or directly between you and Paul after the events.

All right, so I'm going to go ahead and close this one down and Paul, I'll hand it back over to you.

Paul: Great. All right, so, we talked about this a little bit. In terms of creating a holistic view and trying to get kind of a more comprehensive view of your business to really understand. Because how these departments interact and how you can serve your customers, how you can deliver revenue, how you can manage your cash. All these things are highly intertwined. And the more intertwined they are, which is good for speed, the more you need to be able to consolidate them into a single view. And there's a lot of challenges around this.

In most cases, most companies have multiple data systems. Be it HR, if you have a CRM system. You might have ERP on how you're delivering the back end delivery piece. Might have your financials as well. A lot of people now have some cloud applications. So maybe you're using that expense management piece, or you're doing HR benefits that way, or hiring, who knows. FTNA. There's a lot of systems that you can have kind of around this that all feed into how the business is performing and obviously that will all ultimately impact the finances and financial performance of the company.

So there's a fairly significant technical challenge required for you to create this integrated view. Where you're going to have to be able to integrate data from multiple systems and transform it so that's it's kind of more of a single source of truth. Getting things into that one place where things are holistic in nature. They're one number. So you don't have people fighting over the number's 12 in one department. The other department swears it's 11.

You can kind of get people on the same page speaking the same language. And this is a pretty big hurdle that companies have to overcome."

End partial: Corporate Finance Strategy Webinar

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