Realizing the data dividend
Chief Financial Officer insights from the 20th Edition of the Global C-suite Study

Leading Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) recognize that investing in the technologies required to analyze and utilize data yields superior returns.

In our latest Global C-suite Study, we asked more than 13,000 C-suite executives what it takes to lead in a world brimming with bytes. We identified a small group of enterprises that stand out from the rest—we call them Torchbearers.

The CFOs who help run these enterprises excel at integrating financial and operational data with information on customers and competitors to support the decision-making process. They draw on data to identify new sources of revenue, allocate capital, and improve margins. Data-led, agile decision making has never been more important as CFOs grapple with the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results say it all. The organizations these CFOs work for are more agile, more innovative, and more profitable than their industry peers.


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Focus on effective financial planning and analysis:
Make data deliver
Torchbearer CFOs are better at using analytics and AI to perform key financial tasks
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
“We had too many systems that were local and siloed. So we consolidated them into a simpler, more standardized architecture.”
CFO
| Life sciences
Singapore

Torchbearer CFOs recognize that common data standards and practices are a prerequisite for producing trustworthy analytical insights effectively and efficiently. These leading CFOs understand that standardizing data principles and protocols provides a shared foundation for using data and connecting different data sets without having to re-format the information.

However, CFOs can’t realize a proper return on the financial data they collect if their workforce lacks the ability to utilize it. Torchbearer CFOs appreciate that securing a dividend on data entails investing in their workforce to help it acquire the relevant skills. This involves developing or acquiring the analytical talent required to partner with their organization’s business units, and possibly further investment in emerging technologies, such as automation. In fact, a full 78 percent of Torchbearer CFOs anticipate using automation more extensively to collect data and streamline their reporting and analysis.
Focus on effective financial planning and analysis:
Make data deliver
“We had too many systems that were local and siloed. So we consolidated them into a simpler, more standardized architecture.”
CFO
| Life sciences
Singapore

Torchbearer CFOs recognize that common data standards and practices are a prerequisite for producing trustworthy analytical insights effectively and efficiently. These leading CFOs understand that standardizing data principles and protocols provides a shared foundation for using data and connecting different data sets without having to re-format the information.

However, CFOs can’t realize a proper return on the financial data they collect if their workforce lacks the ability to utilize it. Torchbearer CFOs appreciate that securing a dividend on data entails investing in their workforce to help it acquire the relevant skills. This involves developing or acquiring the analytical talent required to partner with their organization’s business units, and possibly further investment in emerging technologies, such as automation. In fact, a full 78 percent of Torchbearer CFOs anticipate using automation more extensively to collect data and streamline their reporting and analysis.
Torchbearer CFOs are better at using analytics and AI to perform key financial tasks
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
Embrace fact-based strategy development:
Use stats to set your course
Torchbearer CFOs use data extensively to identify unmet customer needs
67%
|
29%
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
“We plan on using our data to make strategic decisions and identify our deficiencies.”
CFO
| Telecommunications
Netherlands

CFOs in the most successful enterprises comprehend that data has both operational and strategic value. In fact, half of all Torchbearer CFOs say they find data particularly useful when they’re defining their organization’s vision and strategy. These top-performing CFOs don’t rely on gut feeling to make big decisions; they understand that better data yields better intelligence.

Torchbearer CFOs appreciate that trustworthy data can shed light on a wide range of strategic issues. The insights they obtain enable such CFOs to help their organizations create new business models, enter new markets, support product innovation, and design more attractive customer experiences.

Torchbearer CFOs also realize that when data is shared, it grows in value. At present, most data sharing only takes place within the same industry. However, when data flows across different sectors, the potential for collaborative problem solving and innovation is arguably even greater.
Embrace fact-based strategy development:
Use stats to set your course
“We plan on using our data to make strategic decisions and identify our deficiencies.”
CFO
| Telecommunications
Netherlands

CFOs in the most successful enterprises comprehend that data has both operational and strategic value. In fact, half of all Torchbearer CFOs say they find data particularly useful when they’re defining their organization’s vision and strategy. These top-performing CFOs don’t rely on gut feeling to make big decisions; they understand that better data yields better intelligence.

Torchbearer CFOs appreciate that trustworthy data can shed light on a wide range of strategic issues. The insights they obtain enable such CFOs to help their organizations create new business models, enter new markets, support product innovation, and design more attractive customer experiences.

Torchbearer CFOs also realize that when data is shared, it grows in value. At present, most data sharing only takes place within the same industry. However, when data flows across different sectors, the potential for collaborative problem solving and innovation is arguably even greater.
Torchbearer CFOs use data extensively to identify unmet customer needs
67%
|
29%
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
Steer strategy execution:
Move from idea to implementation
Torchbearer CFOs and their C-suite colleagues rely heavily on data to help them make decisions
66%
|
32%
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
“We’re engaging all the line managers to inculcate a data-driven culture.”
CFO
| Banking and Financial markets
Romania

Creating a culture of data believers begins at the top, with a united C-suite that shares a faith in data that helps CxOs make informed choices. However, such a culture can only exist where data circulates freely and transparently, and where there’s collaboration around a core set of data principles and practices. And it’s clear that Torchbearer CFOs have got the message: 65 percent are actively fostering a data-driven culture by letting data flow freely across functional boundaries.

However, these leading CFOs recognize that people will only trust what data tells them if they’re confident of the underlying quality of the evidence. That’s why Torchbearer CFOs go to great lengths to purge their data where appropriate; provide employees with real-time data to improve efficiency; and invest heavily in AI, realizing the value in the insights it extracts.
Steer strategy execution:
Move from idea to implementation
“We’re engaging all the line managers to inculcate a data-driven culture.”
CFO
| Banking and Financial markets
Romania

Creating a culture of data believers begins at the top, with a united C-suite that shares a faith in data that helps CxOs make informed choices. However, such a culture can only exist where data circulates freely and transparently, and where there’s collaboration around a core set of data principles and practices. And it’s clear that Torchbearer CFOs have got the message: 65 percent are actively fostering a data-driven culture by letting data flow freely across functional boundaries.

However, these leading CFOs recognize that people will only trust what data tells them if they’re confident of the underlying quality of the evidence. That’s why Torchbearer CFOs go to great lengths to purge their data where appropriate; provide employees with real-time data to improve efficiency; and invest heavily in AI, realizing the value in the insights it extracts.
Torchbearer CFOs and their C-suite colleagues rely heavily on data to help them make decisions
66%
|
32%
Torchbearer CFOs
Aspirational CFOs
20th Global C-Suite Study
Build Your Trust Advantage
Leadership in the era of data and AI everywhere
Learn more
20th Global C-Suite Study
Build Your Trust Advantage
Leadership in the era of data and AI everywhere
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