I just was a member of a panel for a seminar given in New York City entitled “HOW CFOS ARE DRIVING GROWTH”. The seminar was given by Proformative.com.
I spoke about the Democratization of Data in one of my slides and felt this would make a great topic for this month’s newsletter.
The concept behind Democratization is that the data collected by the companies systems should not be owned, controlled and hoarded by a single department or entity.
In my lecture, Finance/Accounting was the villain, but it could be any department collecting data. By the way, data is a discrete element, such as the number 22. Information tells you what that data element is all about; so 22 with a label of Number of Widgets Sold in July 1999 is a valuable commodity to know.
Great, Accounting knows this information, but Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and the Warehouse doesn’t. Can it be useful to all mentioned?
Absolutely for a myriad of reasons, from requiring better marketing plans, to implementing cross-selling and up-selling and the list goes on.
So Democratization of Data is all about sharing the knowledge in formats that the end-users can use. Bean counters like numbers; Sales people (your sales people) may like charts, others a combination or reports that mix and match different data elements.
Our job as CFO’s is to see that the information is made available in a format that can be used and drive the companies’ machine forward.
And before I forget; it is never too early to re-examine your information collection systems and to tweak them into collecting data that can be useful today and tomorrow. Putting in a new accounting system; wow the time is never better. Sure it will cost a little more, in terms of implementation time, training and of course planning; but it is well worth the investment.
Shameless plug: SBA * Consulting can assist in the analysis that will provide your accounting system implementer’s with the requirements to install an accounting/finance/managerial computer system that serves all the communities that make up your company!