CFOs and the finance department in general are normally considered to be more focussed on spreadsheets, numbers and basic graphs. The perception may not be wholly accurate, but when thinking about how the bulk of their work is created, this is more or less true.
However, CFOs are increasingly seeing the benefits of data visualization in their daily work.
The most important element of data visualization for anybody is simply that they can see a large amount of information in a very short time. A spreadsheet with thousands of entries can be plotted and understood in seconds rather than hours.
For the basics of accounting and finance this power is revolutionary, as the work that may have taken weeks can now easily be seen in minutes. This could be anything from seeing the overall company performance to the numbers of orders for stationary over time.
It goes much further than this though which for a CFO in today’s business environment is important.
Businesses today are not like they were 20 years, where markets would take years to change. Now we have markets that can spring up or die within the space of a few weeks and people need to be in the position to make decisions quickly to take advantage of potential situations.
Having data like this visualized for the CFO, especially as they are adopting a more strategic position within organizations, is the key to making this change happen fast.
The quicker people can see a trend, the quicker it can be exploited and data visualization is the ideal tool to allow for this.
It used to be that visualizations were only made by a select few or in a very basic way (think graphs on excel). Today, some of the more complex software packages allow people to create visualizations from almost anything. Different data sets can be amalgamated into one and this in turn can help identify trends and patterns that can have an impact on business decisions.
Having the ability to make these decisions quickly based on facts has been shown to increase efficiency across a company and having the chance to make them without specialized knowledge or equipment makes this considerably easier.
For a CFO this kind of work is invaluable for both improving the performance of their team and being able to quickly and easily assess the health of the company.