As Businesses Continue to Move Faster, Finance is Running Out of Time

Is it hyperbole to say the business world is more dynamic than ever?

Everything happens so quickly, even when compared with the recent past. A new brand can be launched from a laptop today and, with some high-profile social mentions, be a million-dollar business tomorrow. And, just as fast, a unicorn darling can be preparing for their IPO one day and a near-worthless company in turmoil the next. News travels instantly, billions of dollars can shift hands based on a tweet, and the right data can make or break a business overnight.

This dynamism applies to society as well, where real-time access to news makes an impact on markets as the news unfolds. Where politicians can influence entire economies with a few words. And where pundits can change an industry’s outlook in the time it takes to utter a soundbite.

Business today is more dynamic than ever. Both externally, in how fast things change, and internally, in how fast we work and how well-informed we can be. Suppliers can share real-time production data with customers. Devices can report current status to support teams. And Artificial Intelligence can tell us which lead is most likely to close.

So how can a business win in the face of this unprecedented and fast-moving change? You need the speed, agility, and responsiveness to quickly identify and react to change, and the information to know what to do. Without it, you’ll miss opportunities, suffer real economic damage, and get left behind.

Financial Insights and Data in Real-Time

Business leaders first need insights on their business—in real-time—and they need to be continuously capturing data, analyzing and re-analyzing it for opportunities and threats, and adjusting their plans accordingly.

If it takes weeks for today’s data to make it into your systems, and weeks or months to put together plans, develop budgets, and build forecasts, you’re already at a disadvantage. Those delays force you into making decisions with stale data and old assumptions. You lose the ability to quickly adapt to business changes and you lose confidence in the decisions you eventually do make.

Making a decision is, essentially, planning. Executives have a set of data that informs them about the future, they make plans based on that data, and then they commit to act. Those plans then define how every department makes their own plans. If something changes, your plans need to change, too. But if you’re in a cycle of planning just annually or even quarterly, that’s not enough to keep pace with today’s business environment.

Another issue compounding the challenge to maintain pace is the constant generation of new data. We currently create a collective 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data each day. That’s 2.5 million terabytes! Decisions are continuously being made or requested. It’s no longer effective to treat planning as a static, point-in-time exercise. The planning process has to be dynamic, able to change with new information, and flexible enough to help teams adjust.

The Planning Processes of Tomorrow

In other words, the planning process is due for an update. The ability to plan, execute, and analyze in a continuous cycle is what executives—and the managers on the ground—have always wanted. So not only does planning have to be continuous, everyone in the organization has to be involved so leaders at every level can analyze new information and react instantly.

Of course, this requires a platform for data, workflow, and collaboration to support a continuous, dynamic planning process in one place, accessible by anyone, from anywhere.

And, of course, you see where this is going. Stay tuned for our series on the planning trends you need to keep up with the speed of business.

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