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Real-time Data Access Enables Operational & Strategic Success

By October 3, 2022October 5th, 2022Self-Service Analytics, Use Cases
~5 minute read

Despite the advent and uptake of countless BI platforms and SaaS solutions, Excel is still widely used in most modern finance departments, and for good reason. Without replacing the need for these other tools, the application retains popularity and boasts high usage amongst financial professionals – including Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) – who frequently use Excel to explore, analyze, and summarize important business trends. Excel is highly flexible and an invaluable business management tool for empowering financial leaders. 

Financial leaders depend on accurate data to make the fast and flexible decisions their roles require. But accessing the business data that forms the foundation of precise budgets, forecasts, and projected scenarios can be challenging. For CFOs, the process of analyzing and modeling data is not the problem. Instead, the issue comes down to the access, speed, and ease with which they can access the data they need to perform their expert business functions.  

Empowering financial leaders with better, faster data access is a powerful way to bridge the gap between their operational business roles and their role in strategic decision-making. 

CFOs need the ability to seamlessly access the data they need when they need it. They also need to easily get that data into a single source of truth like Excel so it can be analyzed for business purposes. Often, this requires gathering data from multiple sources – from a customer relationship management platform, a point-of-sale system, accounting software, or an enterprise resource planning tool.

Like other business users, financial professionals often rely on IT or data teams to pull data from various sources and run reports on their behalf before further analysis or forecasting is possible. These bottlenecks slow down the data analysis process and keep finance teams from responding quickly and proactively to opportunities and threats. 

The AutoQL Add-In for Excel is built to solve this problem by making it easier than ever to access and bring essential business data into Excel in real-time. With AutoQL, CFOs and other finance professionals can query their data source directly, without going through IT or being handcuffed to the limited data available in canned reports and pre-built datasets.  

With the AutoQL Add-in for Excel, users can quickly search, access, and analyze data directly from their data warehouse or lakehouse.

In Excel, users simply open the AutoQL Add-In and ask questions in natural language. These natural language queries get dynamically translated into query language, and data responses are returned in seconds. Users immediately see their query results, rather than waiting hours or days to receive a report from their IT department or scouring other business systems to find what they need. 

With direct access to data from their data warehouse, CFOs can keep real-time tabs on traditional metrics like accounts receivable, bills and invoices, and working capital. They can easily pull profit and loss statements and analyze budgets to keep a pulse on the company’s cash flow health.  

Once they’ve gathered data directly from the source, they can leverage simple functions like PivotTables to reveal patterns or trends within their data. Using this information, they can quickly sort and filter information to identify areas of opportunity to reduce unnecessary spending or optimize their own resources. They can also input their data into pre-built models to generate insights and make projections faster. 

Having reliable access to data means financial leaders are better equipped to contribute meaningfully to operational and day-to-day decision-making. For example, quick access to information can help them uncover the insights they need to answer questions like, “What inventory products should we pull out of the supply chain before next month?” or “What’s the optimal price point for our top selling products over the holiday season?” 

Inventory levels with AutoQL for ExcelAutoQL allows business users to easily bring relevant data into Excel to gain insights into key data points.

One of the key advantages of the AutoQL Add-In is that it makes it easy to query and gather data from multiple sources in one place. For example, a CFO could pull data from their accounting software and ERP system into an Excel document to conduct a trend analysis over a given period. They might draw in historical data to analyze how much inventory they’ve onboarded over the past several months and what suppliers they bought from most frequently, then run queries to see if they can optimize their current state by exploring availability by supplier and inventory statuses in various regions. 

With AutoQL, CFOs can better answer strategic business questions – because they have the data they need to plan, budget, and conduct meaningful forecasting. This helps them analyze data and answer questions based on a more holistic understanding of the business state and marketplace conditions. Based on their analysis, they can provide insight-driven direction to the operations and finance teams for budgeting and future spending allocations. They can also make strategic recommendations to the CEO and other members of the executive team to influence fiscal health and promote company growth.

Because the CFO can query directly against their data warehouse or lakehouse, they can feel confident about the quality and accuracy of the data they receive for analysis. 

With a direct line to data, CFOs have critical access to important information without manually importing and consolidating business data or waiting on their data team for reports. Now they can seamlessly access their data warehouse or lakehouse and get the data they need to conduct accurate analysis, build forecasts, make smarter business decisions, and share critical business updates with various stakeholders in the company. 

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Erica Lister

Author Erica Lister

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