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Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

How to Build a Winning Analytics Team in Finance

Guest Author

By Denis Desroches, Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Specialist

In the movie, Moneyball, Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) says to Billy Bean (played by Brad Pitt), “It's about getting things down to one number. Using the stats the way we read them, we'll find value in players that no one else can see. People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws. age, appearance, personality… Billy, of the 20,000 notable players for us to consider, I believe that there is a championship team of twenty-five people that we can afford, because everyone else in baseball undervalues them.”

I don’t know if this is a real-life, verbatim quote, but it illustrates one kind of different thinking—the kind that could promise survival in a competitive sports landscape, but one that flies in the face of decades of “success” that came with “traditional baseball thinking.”

These types of conversation aren’t limited to sports arenas; in board room meetings, traditional thinking is being reexamined as industries come under attack from non-conventional thinkers. Want examples? After a baseball game at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, I didn’t see a taxi stand sign, but there was a prominent Uber stand. How has Blockbuster been doing since Netflix appeared? What impact did Amazon have on Sears, on Kmart? The list goes on.

So what ingredients were necessary for Billy Bean and the Oakland A’s to become a leading-edge analytics organization? First, they needed data—lots of it, with much of it gathered from sources outside of the team’s legacy database. Then, they needed technology—to gather and mine the data, and to turn it into useable information. They needed capable people—to synthesize the mountains of data and isolate those key indicators that uncover successful decision strategies. Finally, they needed Billy Beane—an executive champion with the vision for what drives success, the fortitude to stick to his guns, and a management style to trust the insight of knowledgeable workers—a new kind of executive.

This example illustrates the four elements for successful implementation of leading-edge analytics: data, technology, people, and intent. Much literature is available to discuss the first three (the tangible elements) but the research team of myself, Dr. Raef Lawson of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), and Oracle’s Toby Hatch couldn’t find much discussion on the fourth element—the intangible element. Call it “intent” or call it “corporate culture”—there just wasn’t much dialog around this topic.

With this dearth of meaningful debate in the top of their minds, our research team conducted a survey to elicit a better understanding of organizational intent for the use of leading-edge analytics to support the creation of a data-driven organization. From information gleaned from survey responses, the team produced two reports.

The Data Analytics Implementation Journey in Business and Finance looks at the current state of the implementation of data analytics. It addresses organizational perception of the importance of analytics to business success, how far along organizations are in the implementation process, and which processes are benefiting from the use of analytics. It also discusses the impact of leading-edge analytics on the role of finance, and the impact that the finance organization has in a data-driven environment.

Building on the results of the survey, our second report, How to Embrace Data Analytics to Be Successful, identifies six critical questions that organizations should consider in their endeavors to establish a data-driven culture.  The right answers to those questions increase the likelihood of a successful implementation of leading-edge analytics and the ultimate achievement of a data-driven culture.

Join us for a complimentary webinar 

Many organizations have started on the path to implementing a data-driven culture, believing that implementing leading-edge analytics is key to their success. Please join Dr. Lawson and Toby Hatch as they discuss the results of the recent IMA study, reviewing key findings and learnings from both research reports. "Data Analytics: Exposing the Organization to Finance's Value" will cover six key factors for successfully establishing a data-driven organizational culture, along with how analytics has the potential to deliver substantial benefits in strategy formulation and implementation. 

Register now for this complimentary webinar from IMA.

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