As the pace of change resulting from new business models, shifts in consumer behavior, and economic uncertainties has accelerated, the role of finance has changed. While 2020 made us wonder what our “new normal” might look like, 2021 has cemented the fact that we are in (and will likely remain) a state of never-normal. In this new environment, finance leaders have become more critical than ever in steering the organization. No longer just a bookkeeping function, finance teams have rapidly evolved to strategic advisors that actively collaborate with the operating functions to drive the business forward.
The new world of finance is all about data driven decisions. But it’s not just about financial data. Finance needs to leverage all data: financial, operational, and external.
To assist finance in this evolution, Oracle is making substantial investments in advanced technologies. We’re building these technologies into Oracle Cloud EPM to help finance take advantage of all available data. We call this intelligent performance management (IPM), a key element of Oracle’s vision for the future of finance.
Consuming more data usually means more time and effort to gather, prepare, and analyze data. IPM applies data science, machine learning, and predictive analytics to automate data analysis, helping finance professionals to focus on strategic decision-making and action—instead of collecting, preparing, and analyzing data. Our objective is to help finance leverage more data in their decisions but spend less time and effort doing so.
This is very much in line with an insightful article by McKinsey & Company which talks about where finance is going. The 3 key focus areas for the future finance organization are: reimagine your finance model; empower decisions with more data; and automate tasks to free up finance.
Now let’s outline how we’re addressing these focus areas with IPM—lowering the data science skills and effort required for finance to leverage advanced technologies and be a truly data-driven organization.
For finance to become data-driven, they need to connect and align key decisions across finance and operations.
This is where connected enterprise planning really starts to add value. It aligns goals and plans across finance and operations; importantly, it does so by making sure everyone is making decisions using all the relevant financial and operational data. This integrated planning process helps finance leaders to become strategic advisors by partnering with lines of business and operations.
Oracle Cloud EPM delivers a single, unified platform for connected enterprise planning, with built-in best practices and prebuilt capabilities for all financial and operational planning. It gives you the ability to use AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics in the context of every financial and operational decision.
Every organization is influenced by economic conditions and competitive actions, so external data representing these factors must be considered when making strategic decisions. Imagine if you could spot trends in customer sentiment and buying behavior across your product portfolio in different geographies and use that to forecast demand and financial performance more accurately.
Further, many organizations have invested in data science platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure ML, Google TensorFlow, or Oracle Data Science—but they’re often challenged to incorporate these investments in the context of daily decision-making.
Oracle Cloud EPM is designed to leverage all available data—internal and external. It also provides best-of-both-worlds flexibility: you can define models locally in Cloud EPM, or import existing models from data science platforms to enrich your decision making.
Intelligent automation is the key to freeing up finance to focus on higher-value activities. It’s about reimagining and modernizing every EPM process using automation, as well as AI and machine learning technologies.
Finance spends an inordinate amount of time preparing and analyzing data to uncover issues, trends, or anomalies—long before taking any action based on these insights. The more data finance must consider, the more time and effort this process will take. Clearly, business value comes from acting on the insights, not from analyzing and reporting on data.
Oracle delivers a key capability—we call it IPM Insights—to automate data analysis and reduce the time spent from days to minutes. Intelligent algorithms analyze vast amounts of data in the background to uncover anomalies, trends, and exceptions—allowing finance to focus on collaborative actions that blend data insights with financial and operational intuition.
In our view, leveraging advanced technologies to help finance become data-driven in all decision-making isn’t an option—it’s an imperative. In the articles to follow, we’ll discuss the key requirements to become data-driven and provide more detail on how Oracle can help make your vision a realty.