E-Handbook: Financial business analytics transforms numbers into gold Article 1 of 4

Analytics is CFOs' ticket to greater strategic planning power

For the past decade, finance departments and CFOs have aspired to augment their perennial roles as bean counters and regulatory compliance scolds by adding the analytical skills needed to function as strategic partners in the entire business. Business analytics tools have been their ticket to garnering greater influence, a way to work smarter.

Now financial business analytics is reaching new levels of sophistication and intelligence, thanks to AI, machine learning and robotic process automation. This handbook provides real-world proof that companies are using AI-boosted business analytics and other automation tools to be smarter, more responsive actors in fast-changing economies.

Our first feature shows how AI and predictive analytics help collection departments spot late payers and CFOs deliver detailed analysis of customer buying patterns. Meanwhile, robotic process automation speeds up accounts payable and other core -- but often mundane and time-consuming -- processes and gives a helping hand to more value-adding customer renewal processes.

Next, the Seattle Sounders soccer club applies modeling software with machine learning capabilities to its financial reports. The club plans to add external data, such as weather information and social media streams, to improve the quality of its strategic decision-making.

Finally, the CFO of a leading vendor of financial business analytics software explains why using AI and predictive analytics to effect digital transformation will make financial analysts work smarter, but only if they have the analytics and data science training and political savvy to communicate persuasively with senior executives.