How CFOs are using Power BI to Add Value
How CFOs are using Power BI to Add Value
CFOs are building their technical skills to utilise AI and automation to streamline their workload and leverage real-time data. While not every CFOs has the skills to jump into the deep end of next-generation technology, there’s one software platform that every CFO should be using.
Power BI. This Microsoft platform provides self-service and enterprise business intelligence that is seamlessly integrated into the Microsoft eco-system and has a low barrier of use for non-digital natives.
We’re diving into the world of Power BI and examining the benefits CFOs can get from using business intelligence platforms. At FD Capital, we connect companies across the UK with skilled CFOs who are leading the way with digital transformation.
What is Power BI?
Power BI is a platform operated by Microsoft. It is a unified, scalable platform that provides self-service and enterprise business intelligence (known as BI). The platform enables CFOs to connect to and visualise any data, seamlessly infusing visuals that can be used across a series of Microsoft apps.
It is one of the most popular business intelligence platforms used by financial professionals with nontechnical business tools with an easy-to-use interface for non-digitally savvy CFOs. Power BI makes it easy for every CFO to aggregate, analyse, visualise, and share data within their organisation.
The interface of Power BI will be familiar to any financial professional as it has stark similarities to Excel and has a typical Microsoft user experience. The platform is ideal for companies that operate on the Microsoft system as the platform can be integrated with other Microsoft apps and products as a self-service tool.
Power BI requires virtually no upfront training, avoiding any expensive training days that may be necessary with more technologically complex platforms. The Power BI Desktop app can be downloaded on laptops and computers running Windows 10 with a mobile app version for Android, iOS, and Windows devices.
Companies can also utilise Power BI Report Server to maintain their reports and data on premises. This version of the Power BI platform requires the additional ‘Power BI Desktop for Power BI Report Server’ app.
Power BI provides insights from the company’s data, connecting disparate data sets to create a clear data model with graphs and charts for visual representation and presentations.
What Power BI Offers for CFOs:
CFOs can utilise the data models available through Power BI in several ways. The most common is to create data visualisations for presentations to translate financial concepts and strategies. Power BI enables CFOs to conduct scenario planning and create reports to answer queries in real-time using business metrics. CFOs can access executive dashboards and provide departmental managers with insights into their performance.
Power BI is a powerful tool that bridges the gap between data and decision-making for CFOs. It’s easy to connect, visualise, and model data that translates KPIs to stakeholders, colleagues, and investors. The evolution of Power BI means that the platform is increasingly utilising AI to provide real-time answers to business questions.
The platform allows companies to easily collaborate using the same data and share insights across various Microsoft Office apps, including Excel and Microsoft Teams. This connectivity enables organisations to make quicker data-driven decisions.
Power BI provides end-to-end data protection that stays in place even when sharing documentation outside of your organisation or when exporting to other formats. Power Bi can be used in unison with Azure and Microsoft 365 to get maximum value from your data.
The platform provides a complete picture for decision making using over 500 free connectors. CFOs can connect their Power BI software to hundreds of on-site and cloud data sources, including Salesforce, Dynamics 365, and SharePoint.
CFOs and Business Intelligence
Business intelligence gathers a large volume of data from various sources to enable them to be utilised in practical ways. Using platforms like Power BI provides CFOs with a comprehensive view of their organisation’s data to adapt to market changes and drive their strategy forward.
Platforms like Power BI can only be maximised to their full potential when used by executive-level professionals who have access to company-wide data. Larger companies may decide to recruit a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to oversee business intelligence.
Start-ups, SMEs, and scaling businesses may instead decide to hand over this responsibility to their Chief Financial Officer. CFOs are uniquely positioned within their companies to leverage both technology and business knowledge for business intelligence. They will have a greater role in strategy and decision-making than a CTO or CIO would.
Utilising business intelligence will enable CFOs to cultivate a data-driven culture by maximising the potential of their data-based insight. Having the skills to engage with business intelligence is necessary for CFOs as their role evolves to take on a greater strategic and operational significance.
Processing and analysing data is extremely labour-intensive for CFOs. Using Power BI allows CFOs to streamline their work and access data in real time.
The Benefits of Business Intelligence for CFOs
Why should CFOs invest in business intelligence platforms like Power BI? Incorporating it into their workflow can curate greater collaboration across departments and provide the organisation with real-time insights into its financial and operational situations.
- Impartially collecting information
Business intelligence platforms will collect and analyse data impartially without the normal bias that financial professionals are liable to have. Utilising Power BI will push the CFO and their colleagues to ensure that information is fact-based and impartial before being imputed into the business intelligence ecosystem.
- Gathering data into one system
Using a business intelligence platform allows CFOs to corral a range of data into one system. Power BI can be utilised to provide insight into both financial and non-financial data. Developing a robust data system enables CFOs to implement forward-thinking strategies and react to events in real time.
- Clearly defining data
Data can easily become mixed up and complicated as it works its way through technological systems. Business intelligence ensures that all data is quantified and documented to be utilised accurately and effectively throughout various departments. Power BI can nurture inter-departmental decision-making by having one base for data to be gathered and defined.
- Supporting informed decision making
CFOs cannot make decisions without data. Business Intelligence is a necessary tool for a data-focused work culture that calls on every decision to be backed up by data.
Power BI offers a data context for CFOs to make more informed decisions and provide more accurate analysis for CEOs. Business strategies that are made without data behind them can have dire financial consequences.
- Spotting weak links within the organisation
Business intelligence enables CFOs to step back and look at situations from a new angle that can provide better insight and new ideas on how to solve problems. Platforms like Power BI can bring light to weak links and potential problems that would otherwise be overlooked, as well as highlight any inconsistent and incomplete data.
Spotting these errors and weak links early can provide the company with a window to implement mitigating strategies, such as cost-cutting measures.
- Predict market and consumer trends
Power BI doesn’t just give CFOs an internal look into their organisation, it also provides a way of monitoring market developments and consumer behaviour. Business intelligence utilises complex data and methodologies to predict trends and potential market conditions.
Using Power BI can allow CFOs to identify opportunities to boost market share or change strategy to explore potentially profitable situations.
10 Reasons CFOs are Using Power BI
Power BI is one of the most popular business intelligence platforms as it’s easy to use and has a low technology skill threshold. It offers integration with the Microsoft eco-system, including applications that every financial department will already be using, including Excel.
Incorporating Power BI into your company’s workflow will enable CFOs to develop a suite of analytical tools to share insight, get instant answers, monitor business success, and analyse data in real time.
There are ten popular reasons why CFOs choose to use Power BI:
Power BI is one of the easiest AI-powered platforms for CFOs to utilise. The platform has evolved greatly since its original inception with the addition of artificial intelligence enabling it to stay up to date with technological innovations.
Users can create machine learning models and integrate them with other software that utilises machine learning, such as Azure. Power BI can also facilitate image recognition and text analytics.
Power BI also has hybrid deployment support with built-in connectors that enable the platform to integrate with other popular software, including Salesforce.
- Quick Insights and Data Model Support
The platform enables CFOs to utilise common data models to create standardised data schemes that can be built upon and extended. CFOs can get quick insights through the creation of data subsets with the option to automatically apply analytics to these insights.
- Mobile and App Integration
Cortana integration is one of the most popular features within Power BI, enabling users to verbally query data using their natural language and access the results using Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana.
Power BI has an API feature for integration with sample codes for embedding the Power BI dashboard into other software platforms.
Power BI is easy to customise with features that enable CFOs to change the appearance, import new tools, and select reporting tools that suit their specific needs.
- Self-service Data Prep
CFOs can utilise the power query feature to integrate and transform large volumes of data into the Power BI platform. Once this data is ingested into the system, it can be integrated and shared across various dashboards, models, and reports on Power BI.
The platform is fully self-service, meaning that CFOs and financial professionals can operate the software with little to no training. Less technologically aware individuals can quickly become familiar with the software through online tutorials and guides.
Power BI is easy for CFOs of all skill levels to use. One of the most popular features of the platform is its dashboards which provide an instant snapshot of the company’s most relevant data. It provides a complete picture without the user having to endlessly scroll through applications and windows.
The cohesively presents the data and information that speeds up the decision-making process.
- Modelling View
CFOs can use the modelling view within Power BI to divide complex data models into subject areas by setting common properties, separating diagrams, and modifying properties. This modelling view allows CFOs to create display folders to make complex data models easier to transform into data sets.
- Products Engaging Visuals
One of the main responsibilities of a CFO is to translate financial forecasting, data, and strategies in a way that investors, board members, and other stakeholders can understand. Power BI produces engaging visuals that elevate presentations and help to bring data to life.
- 24/7 Access
Microsoft applications, including Power BI, can be accessed 24/7 and securely from anywhere in the world. The rise of remote and flexible working means that CFOs need to consider the ability of themselves and their colleagues to access information in real-time from various devices, including at off-site locations.
- Holistic data analysis
CFOs don’t have to give up their reliance on Excel functionality. Power BI can work in unison with it to create holistic data analysis that is more flexible and accurate, providing access to almost every data source. CFOs can transition their Excel documents to Power BI using design tools that they’re already familiar with.
CFOs are using Power BI to add value to their company by leveraging real-time data to get an instant picture of their financial and market position. This affordable platform has a nominal fee with little to no training required to use it. Its integration with platforms like Excel and Teams adds even more value for CFOs who operate within a digital Microsoft ecosystem.
Every CFO should be familiar with Power BI and utilise it as one of the platforms within their digital operations. You can find out more about Power BI from Microsoft here.