By Paul Van Siclen
Sr. Director – Industry Solutions
Strategy & Business Development

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.“

George Bernard Shaw

Hard to imagine that Bernard Shaw anticipated someone would use his quote to provide inspiration to Chief Financial Officers, Vice Presidents of Finance, Controllers and other parts of the enterprise charged with providing strategic, meaningful, accurate and timely analysis to their business partners.  But that won’t stop me.

We (the number crunchers, bean counters, spreadsheet wizards), were early adopters of spreadsheet technology in the 80s and 90s for obvious reasons.  Spreadsheets allowed us to document the numbers, organize the information into a structure to be shared, and solve complex mathematical analysis that was previously only done on a 10 key (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) or an HP12C.

The good news is that it is 2020, and the body of evidence is enough to report that a weening process from the 1990s spreadsheet culture has officially begun!  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people that will argue in favor of never changing.  But in order to progress, and ultimately free Finance, Accounting and Reporting teams to become true business partners, a change must occur.  A move to capitalize on 3rd generation technology platforms can, and should, be made.

I submit this evidence to make my point (click through left or right to see all seven links):

 

The “Finance Toolkit”

Progress Through Change

The “Finance Toolkit”:

As a divisional CFO and a Qlik customer, I recognized that Qlik has a deep functional library that in many ways is deeper and more powerful than the existing Excel functions.  I call them the “Hidden Gems” of Qlik.  Over the last couple of years I exposed functions related to the Finance & Accounting function in an app called the “Finance Toolkit”.  Since then it has been a key discussion point with customers and has been used to accelerate the customer’s understanding of the valuable Qlik engine.

This app includes, but is not limited to: Revenue & Expense Analysis, Price/Volume Analysis, Time Value of Money, Dynamic CAGR calculations, Dynamic IRR calculations, Amortizations and even a Monte Carlo simulation.  Click here to access the application on the Qlik demo site.

Microsoft AdventureWorks Data Warehouse

Progress Through Change

Microsoft AdventureWorks Data Warehouse app:

The popularity of the Finance Toolkit (almost 20,000 views on a community post that I created) spilled over to hundreds of conversations across the globe. Time and time again, we brought to life the power of modern data & analytics sourced from detailed financial/transactional data. I applied the same concepts from the Finance Toolkit over the top of a famous example data warehouse called AdventureWorks, and worked with the Education team which produced an excellent 10 minute overview video of the value proposition that can be watched here:

Did you catch the mobile phone bit? Have you ever tried to look at numbers from a spreadsheet on your phone?

Eating Your Own Dog Food

How many technology companies have transformed themselves and lead the industry by using their own solutions? This webinar spotlights Qlik CFO, Dennis Johnson, who has enjoyed his own transformation and shares his experiences.

Innovations by Technology Partners

One distinct advantage of spreadsheets that has been challenging to overcome is the ability to add comments, capture user input, and generally embed a dashboard (or application) into an actual process, procedure or task.  Those days are over as well. There are many technology partners who have solved the challenge and are now delivering this capability too.  One great example is from VizLib. Click the image to see the full video.

Innovations by Technology Partners

VizLib also provides the marketplace with a valuable solution called “Custom Report” and this solution is valuable to nearly every Finance, Accounting & Reporting use case (in fact you can even see an example of this on the Finance Toolkit demo mentioned earlier).  I call it a “Pivot Table on Steroids”, here is a video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04KF-zMtdgM

 

Tangent Works

As the upgrade to modern analytics solutions progresses, more options present themselves!

For example, InstantML from Tangent Works allows business users to create predictive forecasting models on the fly with virtually no wait time. When benchmarked against other approaches, the Tangent Works engine is 100 times or more faster than common machine learning platforms in producing a model. And it does so without compromising accuracy. Best yet, InstantML can be accessed directly within Qlik through a simple plug-in.

Learn more about how InstantML is creating a revolution in how machine learning is applied within organizations that are struggling with the new normal.

And for Some Levity ...

The Qlik Marketing team in France nailed it in this video a few years ago, can you guess which character is the Accountant?

So there it is, a massive amount of evidence that modern data & analytics is behind Finance Transformation, representing a fundamental shift away from spreadsheets. Re-upping the quote, don’t be the last one to change your mind!

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.“

George Bernard Shaw

I recently made a major career move to Bardess Group. This move also represents a renewed opportunity to promote progress through change as well. Bardess Group has developed a framework called Zero2Hero which balances the desire for quick wins with the cost and difficulty involved in the data preparation efforts. Essentially, z2H uses modern, flexible technologies and delivers business value for a thin-slice use case. The thin-slice is solved through a combination of scalable and modern tools, accelerators and a proprietary methodology to solve complex data & analytics challenges with lightning speed.

I’ve seen first-hand how this innovative approach has helped their customers and I am looking forward to applying this framework to the Finance, Accounting and Reporting teams who are ready to progress. Contact me and we can get you started immediately.