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IBM's value integrator concept shows financial benefits of ERP systems

by Scott Priest, Managing Editor

November 16, 2010

Financials 2010 is over, but there was one session I really wanted to comment on that I wasn't able to during the event. It was called "Results of the 2010 IBM Global CFO Study: Insights for improving financial performance," given by IBM's William Fuessler. 

The session reviewed the results of IBM's study, released in March, of 1900 organizations, having talked to CFOs and other prominent financial minds in these companies. 

In the course of the survey, they came up with this concept of value integrators -- companies that drive business value by using data analytics to achieve finance efficiency and business insight.

IBM's findings were fascinating. So many companies were found to have issues with data -- 40% produce financial metrics manually, 35% lack a corporate reporting platform, 50% of financial professionals' time was spent on transactions, 50% lack a common planning platform -- that those who excelled in these areas primarily found excellent business results. With data they could count on, reported accurately and on time, they could make better decisions.

Fuessler noted that of the 15 companies IBM did "deep dives" -- extended follow-up interviews -- 10 had begun fixing their business processes with technology. Rather than plugging in technology and expecting all their problems to be solved, they attached the technical components to the business processes that were taking the most time and effort, and made their processes better. 

I couldn't help but think anyone from SAP in attendance -- particularly in sales or marketing -- loved hearing all these stats. Evidence backing up the effectiveness of well-used ERP/reporting/planning technology, especially considering the seemingly high cost of implementation, must have been music to their ears.

Fuessler also mentioned that the number 1 initiative coming down the pike was fixing that planning issue mentioned above. In the SAP world, this most likely refers to SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation. We've been hearing the same things at Financials Expert, and have been covering it more both in that publication and in BI Expert. For a selection of our articles on that topic, go here and here.

For more on the study, go to this IBM page and read the related materials.

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