My aim with Generation CFO is to lead the conversation for current and future CFOs around agility, analytics and automation in terms of people and technology. 

It’s a tricky task – there’s a lot involved and it can be complex. At times, that data science or automation world can feel alien to finance people and exclusive to ‘data geeks’, STEM scientists and engineers.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

Am I dumbing it down?

Recently I was criticised for going light on certain topics, for dumbing down automation, analytics and organisational change to create more agility. That is absolutely not my aim. 

I’m not looking to oversimplify, dumb down or reduce this amazing new world that finance people can discover. My aim is to make it interesting to them, more accessible to them, and that isn’t easy.

The people who are accusing me of dumbing down analytics or visualisation would want you to know the ins and outs of ETL and of different platforms for engineering and storage. I don’t really know any other profession that works this way, creating a bar that people can’t get to, or a mandatory language for everyone before they can even get in the club.

It feels a little old school – it feels elitist. With such revolutionary capability available to us, I don’t believe we should be talking in those highbrow terms.

My advice is to engage

Far from dumbing down the subject, all I’m asking people to do is engage. Engage with it and then we’re off. 

Engage with the information you’re providing on a daily basis. Engage with the processes that you’re running on a daily basis. Engage with them in a digital first, data rich way. 

Simply look a little harder, be curious – look at the reports, the visualisation, the information that you’re providing. Look up the processes, and how that data is going into the reports that you’re providing. Just look a little harder, and then we’re off.

Insights are there, even if you don’t know everything

Sure, there is a psychology behind data visualisation. There is a huge technical capability behind analytics.

However, anybody can look at the dashboard, set a numbers chart commentary and judge whether they understand or not. You can judge whether you can learn from it, judge whether you can take action from it – it really is as simple as that.

This curiosity, like simply turning the radio on to see what beautiful music you might find, is the first step. It’s not knowing how to play guitar, or how to compose a song, or having a job as a sound engineer. It’s none of those things. It’s simply opening your eyes to opportunity, and that is where I encourage people to start. 

Far from dumbing down this opportunity, for greater agility, greater automation and better analytics, I am championing and promoting it to every single person in the accounting and finance world – and I hope you’re listening.