For business leaders, “data silo” is a phrase dreaded by all. But, how many of us are actually working toward solving it? Last month, corporate finance leaders came together during the CFO 100 event in Mumbai for a panel discussion on this topic. The following is a re-cap of the important points highlighted by this panel.
During the session, “Transforming Finance: Connecting Data, People, and Plans to Respond to Constant Change,” Nayan Bheti, Assistant CP at Tata Communications, Sambasivan G, CFO at Tata Sky, and Rajiv Kapahi, Senior Director at Boston Scientific, joined Bhavik Vashi of Anaplan to explore the important question: Why Connected Planning?
“In the ever-shifting paradigm of the business world, it’s important to be on top of your planning game,” said Bhavik. “You have to be in a position to respond to change in real time by reducing the time between data and decision to zero. Connected Planning aims to achieve this by connecting people, data, and plans.”
Rajiv further weighed in by sharing his expertise on the shifting role of the CFO and why the right technology matters. “The role of CFO also morphs into the Chief Planning Officer,” said Rajiv. “A CFO has to bring all the pieces together and work toward decision making in real time. Real-time decision making can only be done if the back-end is supported by the right technology—technology that can bring together all the data points floating around in an organization and paint a complete picture.”
Debasis Nandy, President and Group CFO at Thomas Cook India Limited, noted that financial planning is not a one-time process anymore and that today’s CFOs need the right tools to respond to ongoing volatility. “Gone are the days when you do one-time planning for an entire financial year and sit on it,” Debasis said.
“Businesses these days are impacted by day-to-day changes, whether they be regulatory changes or political shifts. CFOs need to be equipped to respond to these changes quickly and effectively. If one part of the business hits a roadblock, the planning process should be agile enough to mobilize the rest of the business to keep the targets on track.”
In one of the most memorable moments of the discussion, Sambasivan shared how his planning journey has moved from developing reports on the tenth of the month to the first day of the month. He explained that by drastically reducing the time it takes go from report and planning, Tata Sky now has extra days to implement its plan. All of this was made possible by integrating different data sources into a single, cloud-based Connected Planning platform.
This brought in a new question for the panel: What do we need to bring this integration together—are the old planning practices now obsolete?
Narayan responded with an important point on how to modernize old planning machinery to match up with the new world. The planning basics remain the same, the rules remain the same but, instead of working in isolation, disparate pieces work together now. “For these integrations to work, the stakeholders have to let go of old ways and upskill themselves in new technology,” said Narayan.
“A planning process is a perfect example of natural selection; you evolve or you perish. The only way you can keep up with the fast pace of business today is to make decisions faster. Doing this means not just focusing on just one part of the business at a given point in time but, instead, taking every moving part into account and striving to make connections,” he concluded.
To watch the panel session, “Transforming Finance: Connecting Data, People, and Plans to Respond to Constant Change,” view the video below.