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How Cloud-Based Analytics Transforms Finance

Guest Author

(and just maybe the Stanley Cup)

By Viktor Sahakian, Hitachi Consulting

As an avid hockey fan—and an amateur weekend player—I love to follow NHL teams and players and get immersed in league statistics. Sometimes I even wonder if you had the right analytics program, you might be able to predict the next winner of the Stanley Cup.

Regrettably, the performance of analytics when it comes to predicting Stanley Cup winners has been less than stellar, especially when your emotions get involved. This year my "heart-based" analytics program predicted the Los Angeles Kings—my hometown team—would take it all. Suffice to say; I was woefully disappointed.

This kind of sports-fan analysis applies to my day job as a technology consultant. I see analytics, especially the cloud-based kind, delivering consistently great results. Cloud analytics is playing a growing role in businesses worldwide. Finance organizations take a leading role in using cloud-based analytics to diagnose and fix performance shortfalls, and proactively avoid pitfalls based on past patterns.

Why finance? Because every line of business line of business eventually rolls up to finance. That means they're in the best position to see the entire picture, from manufacturing to supply chain to sales and marketing.

From Identification to Prediction

Costs, profitability, and compliance are among the top areas of concern for finance organizations these days—and that's where analytics can make a big impact. Analytics solutions can help businesses identify where costs a getting out of hand and highlight the most profitable lines of business. What executive would not want to know that?

Simply identifying problems only gets you so far. To make a real difference, you also need to know the causes. With the latest cloud-based analytics platforms, such as Oracle Analytics Cloud, you can quickly get to the bottom of cost overruns and other indicators of poor performance. A leading manufacturer I work with, for example, used analytics to trace the problem to a bottleneck in its supply chain. Now it's using analytics to drill down deeper into its supply chain operations.

Of course, every executive would prefer to prevent issues from happening in the first place. By examining data patterns, analytics cab help companies spot emerging problems and then head them off. In the supply chain example, analytics could tell decisionmakers to shift vendors or redeploy employees as soon as early-warning signs appear. It's all about going from reactive to proactive problem solving. And prediction is just the tip of the analytics iceberg. Companies are now beginning to incorporate artificial intelligence to recommend the best way to steer the company to achieve desired outcomes.

The Cloud Edge

So, I'm not surprised that more and more finance organizations are moving their analytics to the cloud. There's no going back at this point. A few still resort to spreadsheets, but only in the cloud do you have the flexibility to rapidly integrate multiple sources of information in real time that is key to running the business. Large organizations tend to run disparate systems serving lots of different divisions, or they've gone through mergers and acquisitions that left a patchwork of applications and databases.

The cloud brings all your data together on a common platform. And it can come from a mix of systems, whether on-premises systems or the cloud and in any format, structured or unstructured. Cloud analytics can't be beaten for this kind of flexibility and ease, not to mention the speed with which you can stand up a solution. Gone are the long waits for complex data center integrations before you start getting insights and predictions.  

Cloud analytics is also a great choice for smaller and midsized finance organizations since they are typically stretched for resources and capacity. In recent years, a lot more is being asked of these teams. Instead of just balancing books and paying invoices, they're expected to dig into mountains of data to help the business boost performance and evaluate new opportunities. Cloud analytics can enable a small staff to take on this big new responsibility.

Similarly, cloud solutions can make the job of monitoring transactions and secure data a lot easier, as organizations take advantage of security technologies and best practices built into the cloud infrastructure. And don't forget about regulatory compliance, a big burden for finance organizations large and small. Once they move to the cloud, keeping up with constantly changing regulations becomes largely a matter of applying that latest update to their cloud applications.

Will cloud analytics ever be powerful enough to pick the next Stanley Cup champion? Probably not. But it may help teams improve performance by making timely adjustments to their personnel and strategy. Hey, LA Kings are you listening?  

Want to learn more? Listen to Viktor on the Oracle Analytics Podcast.

Author: Viktor Sahakian leads Hitachi Consulting's Oracle technology practice and has over 25 years of consulting experience with applications development, implementations, and systems architecture. He has directed and provided project management and technical leadership on multiple global implementations and transformational projects. His current focus areas are cloud-based SaaS, PaaS and IaaS transformations as well as IoT-based solutions to help companies address business challenges.

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