Marsha Collier has written many of the ‘For Dummies’ series of books on tech, as well as bestselling books on social media and customer service. It is fair to say she knows a bit about communication and technology. So, when she calls for more ‘data communicators’, as she did at a recent event in London, it is worth listening.
What is a ‘data communicator’? It is someone who can turn stats into stories. Someone who has the skills to find meaning in the numbers, and then share that meaning in a compelling fashion, whether it is in words or pictures.
Why do we need more data communicators? Because we have more data at our disposal now than ever. For the first time, we have the opportunity to remove a lot of the guesswork from business decisions and back up our instincts with evidence. Whether it is determining the right marketing strategy, spotting early sales trends, analysing weaknesses in the supply chain, or optimising manufacturing efficiency, we can now make better decisions based on real-time information. But only if we have the people with the skills to slice the data and see the stories inside.
So, where do we find these people? There is only one function in the business that is rich with potential data communicators. And it is a function that should be growing as a result. It is the office of finance.
If freed to focus on these strategic challenges, finance teams have the beginnings of the right skills. And they should have the right tools. BI and CPM tools like Prophix are more affordable, and more accessible than ever, with intuitive and engaging interfaces that help to make sense of the data. They live in the cloud, removing the headache of IT. And they bring the power of AI to augment the user’s capabilities and automate previously manual tasks. In 2020, finance teams can add more value than ever across the business, answering questions well beyond the office of finance.
The office of finance should be the most exciting part of the business in the coming decade. It is home to both the most business-critical data and the people with the skills to use it. But to unlock that value, it needs investment. It needs people with both the data skills, and the communications skills, and that might mean training and development. It needs enough people with these new skill sets who can take their learning out across the business. That might mean changing your hiring priorities. And these people need the right tools at their disposal: tools that are more affordable and accessible than ever.
As we move into 2020 and the new decade, now is the time to invest in your data communicators and unlock the value in the office of finance.