It's a CFO's worst nightmare: Expected and actual results fail to converge, and managers are left unable to understand the cause and adapt to the variance. Numerous "why" questions are asked, but often there are no good answers. Is there a fundamental problem with the appeal of our products/services? Did a competitor make a move we didn’t expect? Is it due to macro factors that are out of our control? How much does it matter to the next forecast on the future value of our business? It can be difficult to find viable signals amid the noise.
Fortunately, major advances in data collection and computing power have facilitated the use of analytical techniques that enable companies to better capture leading indicators, understand the correlation and causality of factors affecting business performance, and generally produce more precise forecasts. These new tools and capabilities should allow CFOs to better answer the “why” questions and take appropriate action.
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