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.
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
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
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.''
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