How to Become a Successful Data-Driven Organization

October 4, 2022 Lydia Adams

Leadership team having a meeting on how to foster a successful data driven culture in the organization

These days we're collecting more data than ever. But the data itself is worthless without undertaking the necessary transformation to extract insights from that data. Many organizations fail in achieving that transformation for one reason or another. So, how do you build a successful data-driven organization culture?

Chip Pate is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at SecureLink. He has worked in a variety of financial and accounting roles. Chip started as a Financial Analyst at Applied Materials, moved to CompassLearning, and later was the Senior Director of financial planning and analysis at Websense. He then became Chief Financial Officer at PDI Software and eventually moved to his current role at SecureLink.

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Megan: [00:00:00] Chip. Thank you very much for being my guest this afternoon. 

Chip: Hi welcome. Thank you today. We're going 

Megan: to be discussing a topic that's of great interest to me, the journey to become a data-driven organization. These days we're collecting more data than ever, but the data itself is worthless without undertaking the necessary transformation to extract insights from that data and many organizations fall short of achieving that full transformation for one reason or another.

So let's get started and discussing how we can be better prepared for and smarter about this 

Chip: journey. So that was good. First, tell me about 

Megan: your career progression and how you got to where you are 

Chip: today. Yeah, sure. So after graduating from the university of Virginia, uh, my first job out of college was to be an engineer.

Um, but I quickly changed focus and worked in a variety of financial and accounting roles. I started off as a [00:01:00] financial analyst at applied materials, after which I moved to compass learning, where I became their FTNA manager, got promoted to director and then eventually became their controller. Um, following my time at compass learning, I became the senior director of at PNA at Websense, helping the company moved their headquarters from San Diego to Austin.

And then I moved onto PDI software where I served as their CFO. In 2017, I brought my expertise in financial and operational excellence, financial modeling, investment review, internal controls, and buy and sell side diligence to secure, like as their CFO. And I've since taken on responsibilities as the COO.

I'm really proud of what we've been able to accomplish a secure link over the last few years, even after experiencing all the challenges of the recent pandemic, since I've joined secure link, we've managed to quadruple the company's revenue, mostly organically. And additionally, in October, 2020, uh, we made some changes that allowed secure link to [00:02:00] continue its growth trajectory resulting in the sale of the business to Coville partners.

I've also recently got it. Secure link through its first acquisition of data governance company, maize analytics at a national center. Earlier this year, which was also exciting at 

Megan: a super interesting career path. So you studied systems engineering, um, but here you are today, you're a CFO. So first of all, tell us how you made that transition.

Chip: Yeah, to be honest, the transition was actually surprisingly easier than I expected, you know, throughout my life. I've always had a passion for numbers, um, which is obviously a key attribute for anyone who's either in an engineering role or a finance and accounting role. And, you know, so to make that transition, it was one that was a little bit scary at first, but at the end of the day, you know, just being able to use my engineering background and applied to finance roles, I think the transition was actually pretty.

So did 

Megan: someone come to you and ask you to take on a role? Or did you actively seek out a role in accounting [00:03:00] and finance? 

Chip: Yeah, it was actually a little bit of both. Um, you know, at applied materials, their finance and accounting organization actually needed someone with database experience. Um, and they were looking for somebody and it was an opportunity for me to kind of jump over.

Um, and like I said, I was approached and at first it was something that I was like, I don't know if I want to do that. Um, after thinking about it, I thought it would be a great opportunity to kind of join a team that I didn't have much experience in. And so, um, again, it's obviously worked out for the best.

Yeah. So what advantages 

Megan: do you think that that 

Chip: background gives you? Yeah. You know, honestly, I think my engineering background and systems approach give me an advantage in financial roles because I look at things more holistically. So, you know, if, if I have an investment opportunity that I'm in the process of reviewing.

Um, I use a systems engineering lens to look at the investment and I'm able to notice ripple effects that, that investment's going to have across the organization, which allows us to better prepare for any secondary impacts in a ones that you wouldn't see on face [00:04:00] value. You know, a perfect example is like if you learn that a product release is going to be.

Due to challenges within the development organization, it's going to have an impact on your entire company's forecast, not just the debt industry or a student organization. Um, so obviously within dev, you know, you're going to have timing of spending, um, you know, resource constraints, things of that that are all going to have to change based off that new knowledge.

But that impact goes way, way larger across the entire organization. Um, if you think about it, you now are going to have to look at, you know, when is your marketing spend going to be tied to that product release? And when are your sales and bookings forecast going to be based off a new date of when that product's actually gonna be able to go to market.

So, you know, thinking at it with a systems approach allows you to look at how that change is going to impact the entire organization. So that way you can make sure your forecast, uh, is completely adjusted for any sort of. Yeah, 

Megan: I'm sure that holistic viewpoint is more important these days than ever. I mean, the days of operating within a silo [00:05:00] for finance and accounting are long over.

So tell us about secure link. Um, maybe a bit about their history, their mission and what it is they do. 

Chip: Yeah. So when I I'll start by telling you a little bit about secure link, we're actually the industry leader in critical access management, uh, empowering organizations to secure their most high risk assets, including network systems and data organizations across multiple industries, including healthcare manufacturing, government legal gaming, all trust, secure link to protect them.

Um, a little bit more about our history is that we were founded in 2003 as a software platform to provide secure, accountable and audible third-party remote access. Since then, we've helped more than 31,000 organizations and ensure their data is secure during tens of millions of support sessions. Our mission is that we provide comprehensive security solutions [00:06:00] to govern control, monitor, and audit the most critical and highest risk assets within an organism.

So when they break that down a little bit, by telling you a little bit more about what exactly we do. Um, so as I said, every organization has critical assets that they need to protect. Whether it's their network systems and infrastructure, applications, or data, you know, securely helps that organizations protect the critical assets from malicious actors by securing all forms of critical access.

From a remote access for third parties to access to critical infrastructure regulated information it, or even OT. Um, a couple of examples are, you know, we have a major healthcare provider who uses secure link to manage access to its medical equipment. So that only certified and authenticated users are able to access critical systems.

MRI machines or health modern systems. Uh, we have a major real estate management company that uses secure link to manage its access to dozens of major buildings [00:07:00] and infrastructure allowing it's safe and secure access to building automation and security control systems. Another great example is a major healthcare provider uses secure link to monitor.

To private patient data to ensure that only the appropriate caregiving team, um, who needs that access is able to obtain that access for that particular patient. 

Megan: So is it securing both physical and digital assets 

Chip: or just digital? Mostly digital? Yes. Okay. 

Megan: And what are your personal proudest achievements since joining security?

Chip: He had to be honest, you know, the easy, the easy answer to that would be to point to the sale of the company last year to Coalville partners is the biggest accomplishment. Uh, but really what I'm most proud of. And what I most enjoyed is the journey leading up to that point and, and really, you know, highlighting the business that we built over that.

Um, you know, prior to joining the business secure link was, was truly focused on customer [00:08:00] satisfaction and product quality, um, and not really on go to market. And so while we were under the Vista equity ownership, you know, the company really switched to a high-growth mentality. We knew that our product was needed across all those verticals that I mentioned, and we just really.

Actively going out and trying to sell the product. So as a part of that switch, I built the business plan and helped drive the mindset change towards sales and marketing. While at the same time, ensuring customers and products were not neglected. Um, you know, our net retention is, is north of 100%. So it shows that our customers love our product and see value out of it.

Cause they continue to renew and they continue to use more of our product. Yeah. A hundred percent retention. That's amazing. Yeah, the emphasis on our growth results in an average annual grocery for us over the last few years of 36%. Um, and it also allowed us to build a scalable sales and marketing organization.

That's gonna allow us to continue to grow into the future. Um, the other thing that I'm really proud of is, is the culture at secure link. Um, secure link has won multiple best practice awards, [00:09:00] um, due to that amazing culture and its employee base. Um, I'd love to say it was all me, but you know, we had a really strong culture prior to joining the big.

But I know that I've really helped that culture flourish in my tenure. And I'm really proud of the team that we've assembled. Our culture was obviously challenged during the. But, you know, we've persevered and we continue to provide a great place for people to work that has amazing career opportunities.

You know, one example is my myself personally, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I've grown from being just the CFO, um, to taking on legal responsibilities and renewal of what's our customer base, um, and transitioning into that COO and CFO roles role. And so, you know, we, what I like to say is we like to challenge our employees to learn and grow daily in their roles so that they can be better employees throughout their career, as they can.

Megan: It sounds like you have a lot to be proud of. So congratulations on those accomplishments. 

Chip: Thank you. Um, okay. And switching 

Megan: gears a little bit. So let's talk about the role of CFO and how you've [00:10:00] seen this role evolve over the last decade or two. 

Chip: Yeah, I'd say that the biggest change I've seen is related, uh, related to the CFO role is, is, is around strategy and operations.

Um, you touched on it at the beginning of the call, but really, you know, historically if you thought about the CFO. Knowing the numbers and being able to forecast business projections were really the most important component of the role and really what you were mostly judged off of. Whereas now I would say taking those financials and applying them to the business to drive operational decisions and help frame that strategy is probably the most important part of the role.

You know, the CFM CFO needs to be involved in helping the business, set the strategy while at the same time, ensuring the strategy doesn't negatively impact the operations of the business. 

Megan: And what does it mean to you to be a data-driven 

Chip: organization? Yeah. Great question. Um, you know, when people talk about data being a data-driven organization, they sometimes [00:11:00] stop at the word data and forget that the keyword in the class classification to me is, is really driven.

Um, I think most businesses these days have come a long way on the data side. They do a great job of providing data. And trends that are important to the business, whether it's, you know, metrics on bookings or sales growth, or operational metrics around support and customer success, like, um, you know, customer satisfaction or NPS, you know, companies are now trying to understand their operations on a metrics or data level.

And I think a lot of businesses made that. However, where the real value comes for me is when the business actually is driven using that data. So a company truly becomes data-driven to me when, when they fall a couple of steps, you know, one that can identify a problem to compile data, to understand that problem three, create a hypothesis on how to solve a problem for implement those changes.

And then lastly, you know, use data to iterate and optimize the results after that change. So constantly course. [00:12:00] Based off what the data's telling you to get to that optimal. So using the data to drive business decisions to me is that the key value creation step in the process and is often overlooked, um, you know, creating analyses that are not used to drive decisions can actually be a valued attractor for the business due to wasted time.

You know, so one of the things that I love to tell my team is we regularly review the metrics that we're compiling and reporting on, um, to make sure that the business either, either getting value or that we're driving decisions. Um, sometimes metrics are great. It's just checkpoints to make sure things aren't going off the rails and some are used to actually drive and make decisions.

So as long as you can check one of those boxes, I'd say that the data that's being published is worthwhile. But if you're just reporting on data for the sake of reporting on data, again, you can take those resources and do much more valuable. And 

Megan: just out of curiosity, um, so to become a data-driven organization, are there like new roles you're seeing that that are being created or [00:13:00] I guess new titles within the 

Chip: organization?

No, I would say that there's like, I think for us a big emphasis has been around, you know, like, you'll see operational teams reporting into. Functional organizations. And when I say that, you know, you'll have a revenue operations team, that's going to focus solely on, you know, the sales data and the trends and rep performance, um, and pipeline conversion and things of that nature.

Um, you know, I've seen marketing operation teams that are, are focused on helping that marketing team perform at its at its best. Uh, but really the team, I think that has had the biggest impact is really the P and L organization. So, you know, within financial planning and analysis, and for me, it's not really a role shift.

It's more just that mindset change in, you know, with, with computing power and the access to data that we're seeing in the world today, like really using that data and actually using it to drive value, I think is where people need to get to. And because data is so much more prolific, it just makes it that [00:14:00] much easier to go, go, be able to use it and help the business.

Megan: And w what do you think is wrong with the old fashioned way of doing things, which is where people just rely on their gut, or maybe, you know, the previous, the previous experience that they've had with a problem. 

Chip: Yeah. Like, well, gut and previous experience are, are obviously helpful in decision-making. I think you needed to be able to have that data to support those decisions.

You know, if you think about any sort of business situation, um, if you're saying, oh, this is exactly what I did in a past experience, like they're never going to be exactly the same. Um, there could be plenty of overlap between the two situations, but they're not going to perfectly align. So therefore by using data.

You know, you can take into consideration all the minor differences between your past experience and what you're facing now. Um, and he can run variable testing to get to a better solution, you know, and you're not going to just say, this is what was successful in the past. Let's apply it now. Yeah. Let's apply that now, but let's use data to kind of cater and [00:15:00] figure out, you know, how we can tweak that assumption to make it even better for the business.

Long-term. 

Megan: And what do you see as the benefits of becoming data-driven? 

Chip: Yeah, I would say number one for me is really consistency and predictability, you know, by tracking and reporting and leading indicators. The business now has a forward view on expectations of business performance. This allows the business to both improve on trends that are unfavorable, as well as prepare now for what's going to happen in the future.

An example of this is, you know, if your pipeline metrics are predicting an over performance and sales. You know, say six months out from now, it allows you to update your hiring plan, to ensure you have the services and implementation resources to support the expected increase in new customers. If you weren't looking forward and trying to figure out what those projections were going to be, you could get in a situation where you ha you know, you, you sign all these new customers and all of a sudden you aren't able to provide them the level of support that you're, you know, you're used to.

And so by doing that, you've got that [00:16:00] predictability as you look forward and what you expect from a business perspective. You know, number two for me, I would say as accountability, if the company's identified the key metrics that get, that's going to drive the company success, they can identify the owners for those metrics and hold the leaders accountable to drive those results.

You know, it's one of those things where if you're watching something, you know, it's going to perform better. And so by identifying those key metrics and giving owners to each of them, those owners are going to watch them and make sure that the business is performing in those areas, which is again, going to lead to better consistency in practice predicted.

Um, and then number three, you know, I touched on this before, but like, if, if the business is able to tie business decisions to analytical insights, it helps you tell the story behind your hypothesis for change. So in my career, you know, businesses that have been data-driven exhibit a few key, key characteristics, they're continuously improving the business through Metro.

Their employees at all levels understand and to report on the data and have [00:17:00] increased, uh, excuse me. And the business has increased organizational agility to diagnose, diagnose, and solve problems. And lastly, they're better a change man and management, as they can tell the story of change throughout their numbers.

Megan: So are you providing specific training to your employees to be able to use data? 

Chip: Yeah, for me, it's, it's really, it's, it's more asking the, so what, or, or what does this mean for us? So if we put together a data analysis, you know, we, we're going to want to look at it and say, what are the conclusions that we can make from it?

And now let's take it one step further. So, you know, if a trend is going in one direction, it's like, what does that mean for us? And how is that going to impact the rest of the business? And by, by taking a step back away from the numbers and looking at it through that lens, you can now say, okay, this is the trend that's going to happen.

And it's going to have X, Y, and Z impacts on the rest of the business. Now let's go look at what those trends are going to do. And are we going to see a change from something that we just identified? So again, it's really just more trying to [00:18:00] ask that informational question of like, okay, what does this mean?

And how can we use this to better make a decision about what we're trying to do? 

Megan: And it seems so many organizations fall short of becoming data-driven. So what do you see as the most common roadblocks? 

Chip: Yeah, I would say probably for me, the three biggest challenges. Uh, choosing the best data to analyze, uh, number two, which is crucial, is ensuring data integrity.

And then three applying that data, you know, there's other challenges that exist, like picking the wreck, correct tools and systems, you know, in the beginning, it's going to be hard to build muscle, but you, you know, you want to build that muscle to identify analyze data effectively. So that's going to take some time.

Um, and then compilation of data right now, we've got data coming from so many different schools. Being able to pull it all together so that way you can analyze it can also be a challenge. Um, but I would say that those, those last ones aren't nearly as hard as those first. You know, at first with th with a lack of experience and knowledge of all the possible data streams [00:19:00] choosing the best, you know, data to analyze can be a difficult task.

Um, however, the step is, is absolutely crucial to ensure that you're moving down the correct path and looking at the information that will, um, that will help you solve the problem. You know, like if you're picking the wrong data set, even if you get to an. It may not solve the problem that you're trying to, trying to look at at that point in time.

So again, picking that data set and finding the right, um, numbers and information for you to help go drive that decision is going to be crucial. Um, you know, ensuring data integrity, which I said is, is extremely important. Um, it is very challenging, you know, and it's, it's all about continuity over time so that we can help identify trends.

Um, the way you can overcome this challenge. By defining processes and policies around your data and how it's going to be calculated and how it's going to be reported and making sure that those are followed, you know, perfect example of this is by setting the criteria for when a sales opportunity converts into the [00:20:00] pipeline.

Um, and following that same process. So whether it's a gating factor around, is it a demo meeting or is it interest from a prospect or what does that level of threshold? And by having that be standardized throughout the history of the business, you're going to. Uh, data that's going to come out. That is going to be the exact same over time, which is gonna allow you to understand what the trends are dealing.

If you're constantly changing that threshold of, of what actually, when does that, uh, opportunity convert the trends and the information that you're going to be looking at, isn't going to be nearly as valuable, um, because you're not, you know, the, the changing the metric could be what's driving the trend instead of seeing the trend actually changing the business.

If that makes. Um, and then lastly, applying the data as, as also common roadblock, as you can have detractors who don't believe what the data is telling you. You know, I think this challenge can be overcome by showing trend of data and proving the consistency behind the numbers. Um, you know, once you get into the details and show someone, Hey, this is really what it's showing us, and we're going to [00:21:00] continue down that down this path.

It's really hard for detractors to argue when the data has been successful in the past and can show, um, what, what to expect for the. 

Megan: And to your first point about picking the right data, what tips do you have for doing that? Making sure you're not boiling the ocean. 

Chip: Yeah. So I think if you're looking at a problem, you know, you want to say what's the root of the problem and what's causing this.

And so that's the first place to start. So if, uh, you know, trying to think of a great example, If you, if you have that problem and you say, this is the key thing, that's actually driving it, that's the data set where you want to start. Um, you know, you're then going to want to expand and look at other ancillary data sets to see if they're having an impact on a results in that root root part.

Um, but really focusing on that route in the beginning is where you're going to get the most. 

Megan: And regarding change management. I know that's often one of the hardest steps for companies on their journey in becoming data-driven is just [00:22:00] changing the mindset and the processes that have been in place forever.

So how do you overcome organizational resistance and, and get people to start doing things 

Chip: in a new way? Yeah. So I'd say this is really challenging question because the answer is going to depend on the dynamics in the company. Um, but one tactic that I've seen be successful across, you know, the multiple companies that I've worked at, um, is really to focus on company performance.

Excuse me so that the reason for needing more data is really trying to make the company better. Um, if we can focus on how every department in the company is taking similar steps to look at data and find ways to improve their team, it's hard for someone to be like, I don't need to do that when the rest of the business.

Also, you know, getting more data, it's not about finding faults in the current situation or structure of, of what's being done. It's about the improvements that we're going to make to make the company [00:23:00] overall better. Um, you know, the question I love to ask people is who doesn't want to be their best at their job or their function, right?

Like if someone doesn't want to raise their hand there, then they're probably not the right person for the job. And I think using data can make that possible. Um, and so again, it's, it's really focusing on. How this is going to make us better, not focusing on why we did things the way we did in the past.

It's really about the improvement and where we're trying to get to continuous improvement. 

Megan: And are there any tools or technologies that you're using right now that are helping 

Chip: make your life easier? Yeah. I mean there's, so if I think about the, the couple core products, you know, I would say there's multiple products out there that fit that, that subset.

Um, so I'm going to, I'm going to avoid naming specific names and really just kind of focus on the key products that I've seen, be helpful. Um, so, you know, starting with CRM or resource management, um, and having that system linked to your ERP or GL function, um, is crucially important because it allows you to.[00:24:00] 

You know, almost all of the finance and accounting organization. Um, so whether it's, you know, something all the way from the beginning of when you're actually quoting a customer, having that data be able to flow through all the way to your GL, to when you're actually invoicing. So basically from quote to cash, um, having that, you know, like I said, integrated and automated.

So all that information flows to your systems that prevents errors. It makes the process more streamlined, which means you're going to get your cash quicker, which is obviously a key component of the business. Um, and then if you think about the data-driven side on the. On the backend of that, you know, the two tools that I've seen be the best are really BI tools and then CPM tools.

And so BI obviously being business intelligence, you know, with the ones we focus on there around, uh, sales and marketing. And so we spend a lot of time really digging into our pipeline, taking into our rep performance and digging into trends that we're seeing in the business from those perspectives. Um, you know, being able to take your sales data and break it down and.

Um, what verticals are buying [00:25:00] the product? What's the ASP of the product. What's the sales cycle of the product. All that stuff can be generated at, you know, at the push of a button coming out of a solid BI tool. Um, and then lastly, CPM, you know, you know, uh, company performance management, um, being able to take the financial data that's in your ERP and report on it in multiple different ways and compare to your budget and compare to your forecast.

I mean, you mentioned it earlier when. Businesses and the environment is so rapidly changing now. Um, you know, your budget that you said at the beginning of the year, it could be antiquated three months later and you need to be driving based off your forecast. And that forecast is going to change every single month.

So having a great CPM in place allows you to be able to benchmark off of, you know, the right dataset about what's most important and what's most relevant to the business at that point. 

Megan: I really like your point about, um, you know, having your CRM linked to your ERP and automating the whole process of quote cash.

I feel like a lot of [00:26:00] companies probably struggle becoming data-driven because their data is so 

Chip: disjointed. Yeah. To be honest, like that's one of the things that allows your business to be scalable. Like if you're trying to go from 500 customers to a thousand dollars, The way to solve that is not, you know, just adding more people to go through manual processes, you need to automate those processes.

So like you said, you can have the data coming out of the system to be able to analyze it, but also you can, you can then scale at a more cost effective way because you've got the tools and systems in place to be able to support your customers on a daily basis. And 

Megan: lastly, as a CFO, what is keeping you up at night?

Chip: These days? Yeah. Great question. Um, you know, I'd say there's really two things that keep me up at night right now. Um, number one is growth. Uh, you know, our business, as I said, we we've quadrupled our size in the last four years and we want to continue that trend. So we want to continue to grow. And I always think back to the, you know, the old saying, if you're not growing, you're dying.

Um, so that's always in the medic in the back of my mind and [00:27:00] constantly thinking of. How can we accelerate our growth and what data can we look at, um, to improve our sales and marketing organizations. And, and like I said, help the business grow. Like I want to be an enabler for sales and marketing to allow the business to continue its trajectory.

Number two, for me, it is really kind of an in, you know, And rapidly changing job market that you're seeing is, is really around employee retention. Um, you know, with the ever changing world we're seeing right now, you know, you have employees out there who are able to work fully remote, which means that the competition to fi to find and retain top talent has drastically changed within the last year or so.

Um, so I worry about how can we protect, you know, one of our most valuable resources, which is our employees. And then in addition, How do we attract more top talent as we grow? Um, you know, that job market is just so fierce right now. Um, that it's just something that's always in the back of my mind, thinking about how are we going to get the next best person to help us take our business to the next level?

Yeah, 

Megan: that's true. I never thought about that, but these days employees can be poached from [00:28:00] companies anywhere in the United States, not to mention all over the world. 

Chip: Exactly, exactly. It's challenging for sure. I think every business right now is facing it. So we're all in this. Uh, chip, thank 

Megan: you so much for being my guest today.

Chip: Yeah, I appreciate it. Thank you so much for the teller. Yeah. 

Megan: I really enjoyed speaking with you and hearing about your experience and the resulting insights. I appreciate you taking the time to be here with us today, and I wish you and secure link all 

Chip: the best, like so much. And it was, it was a pleasure.

Yep. To 

Megan: all of our listeners, please tune in next week and until then take care


In this episode, we discuss how the role of CFO has evolved over the last two decades, the core of a data-driven organization, and tow to overcome organizational resistance when applying data among other interesting topics.

Protecting Critical and High-Risk Assets in a Successful Data-Driven Organization Culture

SecureLink is the industry leader in critical access management and empowering organizations to secure their most high-risk assets, including network systems and data. The company provides comprehensive security solutions to govern, control, monitor, and audit the most critical and highest risk assets within an organization.

Chip built the business plan and helped drive the mindset change towards sales and marketing at SecureLink, while at the same time not neglecting customers and products.

''I think my engineering background and systems approach gives me an advantage in financial roles. I look at things more holistically. If I have an investment opportunity that I'm in the process of reviewing, I use a systems engineering lens to look at the investment. And I'm able to notice ripple effects that investment will have across the organization, which allows us to better prepare for any secondary impacts in ones that you wouldn't see at face value.''

How the Role of CFO Has Evolved Over the Last Two Decades

CFO involvement in data driven culture

A significant change that has occurred related to the CFO role is around strategy and operations. Historically, people see a CFO as knowing the numbers and being able to forecast business projections. Now, the most important part of the role is taking those financials and applying them to the business to drive operational decisions and help frame strategy.

''The CFO needs to be involved in helping the business set the strategy. At the same time, a CFO needs to ensure that strategy doesn't negatively impact the business's operations.''

The Core of a Data-Driven Organization Culture

Most businesses these days have come a long way on the data side. They do a great job of providing data and trends that are important to the organization. Companies are now trying to understand their operations on a metrics or data level.  However, the real value comes when the business uses that data.

There are several advantages for companies who use data. Firstly, data provides consistency and predictability. The business now has a forward view on expectations of business performance. It allows improving on unfavorable trends and preparing for what's going to happen in the future. Secondly, the company can identify the owners for those metrics and hold the leaders accountable to drive them. Thirdly, the business can tie business decisions to analytical insights, which helps them tell the story behind their hypothesis for change.

However, there are three challenges for organizations in becoming data-driven. These are: choosing the best data to analyze, ensuring data integrity, and applying that data.

''So a company truly becomes data-driven to me when they fall a couple of steps. The first one can identify a problem to compile data. The second helps to understand that problem. The third is to create a hypothesis on how to solve a problem for implementing those changes. And then lastly, use data to iterate and optimize the results after that change.''

Overcoming Organizational Resistance and Applying Data

data driven organization culture quote

One tactic to overcome organizational resistance is to focus on company performance. The need for more data is about trying to make the company better. Several tools can help an organization become data-driven. These tools are CRM, resource management, and BI and CPM tools on the backend.

''I think using data is about focusing on how this will make us better, not focusing on doing things the way we did in the past. It's really about the improvement and where we're trying to get to continuous improvement.''

For more interviews from the CFO Weekly podcast, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player!

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