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How Finance Teams Can Overcome Data Chaos to Improve Business Decision Making

Few functions are more critical to strategic business decision-making than finance. At a time of extreme macroeconomic volatility and business uncertainty, boards need their input more than ever to navigate stormy seas. For finance, it means ensuring the right people can access the right data at the right time. But enterprise data ecosystems are complex and dynamic. Underlying architecture, especially in the cloud, is constantly shifting. That makes building the pipelines that connect financial data from source to destination increasingly challenging. Many line of business (LoB) users are also taking matters into their own hands, creating datasets without telling IT or data teams, exacerbating security and governance challenges.

Under immense pressure, organizations and their finance teams must overcome data integration friction to chart a course for sustainable growth. To do so, they will require a centralized platform to deliver data on demand in a streamlined, managed manner.

Pushed to Breaking Point

Accounting and finance teams are among the biggest consumers of data. Research reveals that 44% of all data leaders and practitioners receive weekly requests from finance teams. They want access to transactional, budgetary and operational data to help compile financial statements, end of quarter accounts, tax returns and more. Yet demand for data is outstripping supply as IT teams become overwhelmed by data requests from all teams. 

To keep up with these requests, IT needs to design sophisticated rules to integrate, transform and process financial data across heterogeneous environments. Given their importance to the work of finance teams, these data pipelines need to be resilient. Unfortunately, 48% of finance data professionals admit their pipelines crack at the first bump in the road. 

Why are data pipelines so brittle? In part because of the large volumes of data needed to power the modern finance function. Everything from invoices and purchase orders to interest rates and tax codes are required in real-time, supported by multiple pipelines, which makes effective oversight challenging. It may also be due to the intense pressure that finance teams face to meet their deadlines. Many LoB users are forced to work independently of IT to get the data they need. The end result: 42% of finance data professionals admit their pipelines break every week, higher than the average across functions (36%). Around half (48%) admit data integration friction is a “chronic problem” in their organization.

Going it Alone

Cloud infrastructure plays a pivotal role in creating this data chaos. In fact, the most commonly cited reason for pipeline breakage is infrastructure changes, such as moving to a new cloud (44%). An estimated 89% of global enterprises currently have a multi-cloud strategy and 80% have opted for hybrid cloud. This creates complexity, which can undermine efforts to build resilient pipelines between cloud-based data sources and their destinations. If these foundations are not laid correctly, frequent changes to the way data is stored and used can disrupt critical data flows, break processes and corrupt the data itself.

As pressure from the business mounts, some LoB finance users go it alone without IT’s help, creating additional governance risks. Over half (54%) of finance data leaders and practitioners say hybrid and multi-cloud infrastructure, combined with data decentralization between LoB teams, has created a data “wild west.” Nearly all (91%) want consistent security measures to protect data as it flows between on-premises and cloud environments. 

This figure is significantly higher than that of data leaders and practitioners from across the organization (81%), and it’s easy to see why. Financial data contains an organization’s DNA. In the wrong hands it could cause significant financial and reputational damage. This is why it’s imperative to bake good governance and effective data security into any data integration strategy.

Taking Back Control

Financial planning and analysis have become critical drivers of business agility and sustainable growth at a time when budgets are tight, and markets are ripe with uncertainty. To address this, LoB users need real-time data from a wide range of sources to perform the tasks demanded of them. But too often they are being held back by brittle data pipelines which saddle the organization with large repair bills and force them to work with outdated, inaccurate and incomplete data.

Three-quarters (76%) of finance data leaders and practitioners believe that smarter data pipelines would enable them to quickly deliver data to the business. To make this a reality, organizations need to consolidate on a single, centralized platform to modernize their data integration efforts. Doing so could even provide built-in governance and security guardrails to empower LoB users to perform last-mile data collection and analysis themselves. That kind of self-service could take the pressure off IT and add tremendous value for the organization. 

Finance teams are in the engine room of the modern data-powered business. To thrive, we need to minimize data integration friction and create order out of the current chaos.

The post How Finance Teams Can Overcome Data Chaos to Improve Business Decision Making appeared first on StreamSets.

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