CFOs from World-Class Companies met over dinner recently at Restaurant Serenade, in Chatham, NJ, to discuss “Financial Analysis, Data Analytics, and Driving Strategy in World-Class Companies.” They came together as part of The World-Class Companies CFO Dinner Series, powered by CFO Studio.
David Wyshner, President and CFO of Avis Budget Group, led the discussion. Data is of critical importance to today’s CFO, he said. It is the key to competitive advantage. Historically, finance has been data-driven, but the emergence of big data and the growth of data analytics have further heightened its value.
“We are at a real inflection point regarding the importance of financial analysis and data analytics to help drive business decisions,” said Mr. Wyshner. “At Avis Budget Group, we are using data to drive decision-making and pricing, and to understand profitability from one transaction to another. It is helping us figure out when and where we make money, something that may sound easy, although it is not. It allows us to know what to optimize and when to acquire, rotate, and dispose of our fleet.”
Thomas Bongiorno, Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer, Envision Healthcare, Greenwood Village, CO, framed the discussion. “The historic focus of the finance function was primarily tactical — close the books and ensure the integrity of the financial statements and disclosures with no surprises. This is now table stakes for a finance function. The payoff is in driving value through analytical insights, which represents a significant shift for many finance functions, but is a journey worth taking.”
“Historically, [financial planning] used to be about managing physical assets and the accumulation of wealth around the accumulation of property,” said Bud McGann, Chief Revenue Officer, Tidemark, a Redwood City, CA–based enterprise performance management software company and a CFO Studio Business Development Partner. “However, there has been a significant switch from asset accumulation to knowledge about people and information on networks. We must leverage that information and bring it to the field.”
The CFOs in attendance all agreed that the growth of data-analytic capabilities is helping drive business decisions, with the further effect that CFOs armed with analytics are vital to operational business decision-making.
The biggest takeaway: In-depth analytics are allowing companies to hedge against volatility and to respond faster, and with greater insight, to changes in the marketplace.