We’re living in a world driven relentlessly by an excess of data. Thanks to a surge in technological innovation, businesses now have access to more information than ever before – and although it’s become incredibly simple to gather and record all of that information, one hurdle in which many treasurers are still working to overcome is the ability to efficiently analyse those huge amounts of big data in order to communicate, promote and action data-driven and strategic decision-making.
Improved data visualisation tools have the ability to assist teams in overcoming this hurdle – which is why data visualisation will inevitably be a key area of growth across the treasury space in 2019.
Believe it or not, the human brain isn’t actually designed to translate binary code or digest written information quickly.
According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, most individuals process visuals 60,000 times faster than they are able to process text. This ability to process information quicker inevitably leads to faster and more efficient decisions – which is probably why Nucleus Research found that business intelligence solutions offering advanced data visualisation capabilities tend to generate an average ROI of $13.01 for every dollar invested.
Bearing in mind the prevalence of big data in 2019, exceptionally few large organisations can possibly hope to scale without deploying some type of TMS or ERP software solution. Not only are these systems ideal for businesses looking to manage liquidity performance, but they now also have the power to draw from inconceivably large sets of big data in order to assist treasurers in optimising cash using automated investment, working capital and risk management protocols.
But as we’ve already touched upon, without the benefit of data visualisation it can be incredibly difficult for the C-level to accurately assess those positions. According to one recent survey by Computing, 95% of UK businesses deploy some sort of business intelligence tool, but only 52% of those firms believe the tools are actually delivering clear benefits in line with expectations – and 40% of respondents cited the length of time required to get further insight as the biggest shortfall of their TMS or ERP solution.
This is precisely why advanced graphical analysis and visual scenario-building must now be incorporated as critical components for any TMS solution – and fortunately, it seems that software solutions providers are finally ready to offer teams the sort of visual platforms they need to succeed in the months to come.
One of the industry’s top innovators in data visualisation is Tableau, and the Seattle-based software firm has come out strong in 2019 with the development of a new mobile app enabling treasurers to view, engage with and leverage big data at scale from any mobile device. Powered by AirWatch technology, the iOS app offers a secure, data-driven workspace capable of integrating access control, multi-platform endpoint management and generating shareable and digestible financial snapshots both online and offline.
Elsewhere, providers are working to integrate new technologies within their existing ERP and TMS solutions in order to provide wider data pools with which to generate sleek and easy-to-understand graphical visualisations. At the start of this week, Qlik announced it had acquired AI solutions firm Crunchbot – expanding upon Qlik’s existing augmented intelligence and cognitive capabilities through additional conversational analytics.
In turn, teams should now be able to ask questions about their financial data using integrations with services such as Amazon Alexa in order to receive robust answers, insights and additional context accompanied by auto-generated charts, visual interpretations and predictions for measures. According to Qlik, the new integration will give users the unique chance to “enter an experience conversationally and then transition to visual exploration”, potentially saving treasurers a whole lot of time and resource.
Qlik isn’t the only software firm looking to utilise conversational analytics in order to provide customers with easier access to data visualisation tools.
At the start of January, the US-based MicroStrategy announced the release of its new MicroStrategy 2019 enterprise analytics platform – which relies on pre-configured connectors in order to allow users to visualise and interact with trusted data sets without even needing to click on anything. Again, this is made possible via integrations with Amazon Alexa and other voice-controlled apps, and the tool comes equipped with open APIs allowing developers to create custom widgets and voice-activated visualisation tools to suit their own business needs.
At this point, it’s fair to say all of the sector’s leading TMS and ERP solutions can and should come equipped with advanced data visualisation functionality.
Not only does visualisation make life easier for treasurers, but it makes life smarter for treasurers, too. Yet in the months to come, it appears developers are poised to make these solutions even smarter. With the release of new apps capable of harnessing and displaying big data from any mobile device, as well as the launch of AI-powered technology enabling conversational data visualisation, it’s easy to see why data visualisation is set to become a key area of growth and innovation for treasury teams in 2019.