Finance teams cannot operate in departmental silos, hoard the data they are capturing, and expect to drive business forward. Data sharing needs to occur between cross functional departments to enhance teamwork, improve communication, and create a culture of continuous improvement.
Take the interaction between finance and HR, for instance. An EY study highlighted in a recent WorkSpace Today article explains that CFOs can provide valuable input from important HR data metrics, such as the time it takes to recruit, hire and train. From this information, finance can provide a different perspective to contain costs, and share their recommendation to help determine the appropriate amount of money to be spent on improving the hiring and training expenditures.
Kevin Roberts, director of platform technology at FinancialForce, takes this cross-functional collaboration a step farther and advocates for The Death of the Department.
“The death of the department will enable businesses to reconstruct data sharing so that it’s more intrinsic across all departments. With data at the core, everyone from a sales manager to the chief marketing officer could easily improve how work is done, understand where disconnects exist among departments and better support employees in realizing their value to the larger business.”
Of course, intrinsic data sharing is just the first step. There will always be nuances to the data, along with some major challenges humans face in making sense of all this information.
Several of these challenges are captured by leading consumer researcher Colin Strong in his book, Humanizing Big Data, which is paraphrased in a Forbes article entitled, What Can Big Data Ever Tell Us About Human Behavior?
While computers can process and store large amounts of data, making sense and deriving meaning from all this data still falls under human cognitive ability. Also, more data does not always equate to more informed decisions. In fact, more data can slow down the time it takes to make a decision, which is the antithesis of what companies want as they remove departmental barriers to drive the business forward.
In short, Strong contends that humans will be driving big data in business, and not the other way around for years to come. And if the department becomes dead, as Roberts argues for, regular human interaction will need to occur between assembled, ad hoc teams to dissect data and solve issues that achieve specific organizational goals.
Typically, ad hoc teams within an enterprise will come from a variety of backgrounds, and will likely sit in geographically dispersed locations. To best facilitate human interaction, ad hoc teams will need to leverage the right communication platforms to collaborate efficiently on critical data metrics.
Instant messaging, for instance, allows dispersed teams to get answers to simple questions quickly (e.g. “can you send me a link to the data we discussed?”), while voice provides you the opportunity to explain slightly more complex questions or anything that might be misinterpreted over text. These channels are especially effective when participants already have a good working relationship.
The beauty of eliminating departments (or at least creating ad hoc teams) is that you can bring together just the right resources and skillsets to solve problems or be innovative. The downside is that when you’re not sitting in the same room, teams lose valuable time just understanding the players and building trust. Enterprise grade video collaboration enables teams to connect and interact face-to-face and in real-time, dramatically shortening the time required for teams to hit a stride.
Credit reporting agency, TransUnion, knows a thing or two about managing massive amounts of data and utilizing video as a collaboration tool to connect its geographically dispersed workforce. With more than 65,000 businesses and 35 million consumers with data, analytics and technology solutions, TransUnion is committed to employing the best technology and ensuring its associates are connected and productive.
Polycom® RealConnect™ and Polycom® RealPresence® Group Series are the video collaboration platforms used, which is integrated with Skype for Business for TransUnion employees. Being that Skype for Business and its instant messaging capabilities is a platform employees are already familiar with using, a simple click-to-join video functionality on the Polycom network has made joining video calls easy.
“We have seen a significant uptick in video minutes. The workforce has picked up on it very quickly and they enjoy the face-to-face interaction for teams.” – Brian Grzesiak, Director of the Global Collaborations Team
In conjunction, TransUnion enhanced their collaboration solution portfolio with the integration of the Polycom immersive telepresence (ITP) solution. This large, stadium-type seating provides a great view of virtual participants, with lots of screen real estate to display members and content.
“I started to feel like the team in Sao Paolo Brazil just sat on a different floor. We started to feel like we are a family collaborating. It blew my mind and changed the way I thought about global organization.” – Christina Strauch Mengel, Lead Engineer
The data collected and managed by finance has incredible power to drive business forward. Finance teams, however, cannot constrain this data; they must take part in the death of departments within the enterprise to share and reveal their insights with cross-functional teams. And leveraging video collaboration solutions to facilitate interactive discussions between ad hoc teams when reviewing this data will help enterprises make better financial decisions.