Watson Analytics is revolutionizing the Office of Finance

Product Experience & Design – Watson Analytics, IBM

Even though I work for IBM, I only recently tried IBM Watson Analytics. It’s not because of the lack of marketing on their part; I just didn't have the time and didn't grasp the value it brings to my team—the Office of Finance. Of course, Watson Analytics has shaken up the industry since it was launched last year, using the IBM Cloud to deliver powerful analytics to anyone.

In recent years, we've seen how the Office of Finance has taken on a more prominent role in driving business performance. To achieve this, Finance requires more integration across the organization, so that operations, sales and other lines of business access the same data to make better, data-driven decisions. However, most organizations don't have what they need to support this integration. I believe this is where Watson Analytics truly delivers for the Office of Finance. Offering a common, easy-to-use solution, accessible on the cloud by line-of-business users across the enterprise, Watson Analytics enables more accurate processes to drive attainment of operational goals.

It was when I took Watson Analytics for a test drive, followed by a deep dive into its full range of capabilities, that I began to realize its transformative implications for Finance. Let me take you on a tour of some of its key features, as well as some of its extraordinary innovations—and show you why I think Watson Analytics is going to revolutionize the finance function. Watson Analytics can enhance performance management

You’ve probably read reviews or commentary on the features Watson Analytics offers business. For Finance, as noted in this IBM white paper, Watson Analytics enhances performance management in areas such as:

  • Employee attrition: Watson Analytics helps analyze data to identify which employees are likely to leave and why, improving workforce planning and its potential impact on business performance.
  • Customer retention: Companies can use Watson Analytics to develop predictive profiles of customers indicating which are likely to switch to competitors. This enables smarter customer retention strategies for growth as well as more reliable revenue forecasts.
  • Sales pipeline and revenue: Watson Analytics can be used to assess the sales pipeline to predict which deals are likely to close and which may be at risk. This facilitates more accurate revenue forecasts as well as better planning for more effective sales management.
  • Accounts receivable: Watson Analytics can help determine the most likely, and least likely, customers to pay invoices on time. This insight creates more reliable cash flow forecasts.

How Watson Analytics ups the excitement factor

Watson Analytics includes some pretty impressive capabilities, so I wanted to share a few of my favorites:

  • Ask a question, get an answer: If you know what questions you need answered from your data, just ask Watson Analytics—it understands and answers you. This empowers users across Finance and the lines of business to get quick responses from their data and gain from the benefit of analytics.
  • Guided discovery: If you don’t have all the questions, don’t worry; Watson Analytics recommends questions that can uncover the hidden patterns and relationships most likely to yield actionable insights. Anyone who has worked with a large data set knows how much time you can waste going down uninformative blind alleys. 
  • Visualizations: I like working with data, but I’m not the fastest when it comes to deciding which chart to use. Watson Analytics helps me cut to the chase by recommending visualizations that best illustrate the data. I have even started to think of Watson Analytics as my personal visualization advisor. For example, here is a word-cloud visualization I created from a sample data set. It provides a quick view of the most profitable and highest-revenue-earning products—products sized by profit and colored by revenue. Imagine being able to do this for your reports in seconds.

With the Office of Finance playing a larger part in business decision-making, the capabilities of Watson Analytics and IBM Performance Management solutions can together deliver the strategic planning your organization needs to steer business performance and drive profitable growth.

Try Watson Analytics for free, and learn more about how performance management technologies—and innovative solutions such as Watson Analytics—can enhance your capabilities and accelerate your business growth.