How Accounting and Finance Professionals Can Use Data to Gain Superpowers

You read that right—when FP&A, accounting, tax, and audit professionals can proficiently read, work with, analyze, and argue with data, they gain superpowers. These powers give you the abilities to complete tasks with incredible speed, make decisions driven by uncanny wisdom, unleash spectacular results for clients, and ultimately gain an astonishing edge on your competitors.

In the real world, getting bitten by a radioactive spider will probably just leave a nasty scar, and jumping into a gamma bomb blast to save the world’s most annoying teenager will definitely kill you. But that doesn’t mean superpowers don’t exist. 

With The Economist declaring that data has now replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource, it’s time for accounting and finance professionals to start unlocking the great power (and, of course, great responsibility) of data and gain the capabilities they need to stay competitive.

Like Steve Rogers, you already have those abilities inside you. You just need a super soldier serum boost to unleash your full data potential.

So what is that secret formula? You’ve likely read countless articles about data literacy initiatives being the key to success in this new age. While data literacy is certainly important, it’s the superpower equivalent of Squirrel Girl’s ability to talk to and mobilize squirrels—useful, but not exactly world-shaking.

To become the hero the accounting and finance world needs, you’ll have to go beyond simple data literacy to achieve data domination. And the only way to do that is with the right analytics platform—one that empowers your organization to easily unleash the value of your data and grab your cape to analyze it, share it, and automate key tasks along the way. 

You’re probably thinking, “That all sounds great, but what exactly will these data superpowers allow my organization to do?” Let’s take a look at some specific benefits and use cases across tax, audit, finance, and general accounting—and show you what unlocking your inner data hero really looks like.

Data and analytics superpowers for tax professionals

Tax professionals spend more than 50% of their time gathering tax data and less than 30% on strategic tax analysis. If your organization could flip those numbers, you could transform tax data from a liability into a superpowered asset. When tax professionals dominate data, they can:

  • Stop collecting data like an RPG character mining for XP: Reduce time spent manually gathering data, business and legal entity reconciliation, and tax reporting; increase time for higher-value work like performing multiple analyses of transactions.
  • Become a data Mr. Clean without shaving your head: Easily clean data from any source, including multiple ERPs, consolidation systems, billing systems, commerce platforms, and more.
  • Comply faster than a Star Trek Borg: Get a complete analytical view of audit processes across compliance, fraud detection and investigation, risk assessment, operational performance, and internal controls. 
  • See flaws better than an Inhuman: Improve efficiency and accuracy to understand anomalies before and after meeting compliance requirements.
  • Say “I know” more than Han Solo: Boost confidence in data integrity and in uniting all team members and decision makers around a single source of truth.

None of that happens if you stick with the spreadsheet ways of the past. The right analytics solution can evolve your process to visual, repeatable workflows. That means performing correlation analyses to identify drivers of effective tax rates and disparities between statutory and effective rates. And it means better forecasting of effective and cash taxes, determining optimal transfer pricing patterns, and conducting “what if” analyses ahead of M&As.

Data and analytics superpowers for audit professionals

Using spreadsheets for audits today is like trying to run Starcraft II on your old 386 PC—it just doesn’t work.

But with a modern, superpowered analytics platform, auditors can use intuitive, drag-and-drop interfaces to achieve data domination through experience and experimentation. Code-free and code-friendly platforms provide deeper understanding in the auditing process—no matter your analytics comfort level—and make it easier to identify anomalies and classify potential irregularities.

With data powered by self-service analytics, audit professionals can start to:

  • See farther and wider than Heimdall: Easily perform end-to-end process testing and control validations.
  • Cut costs like Edward Scissorhands: Lower existing and future audit costs through scheduling and automation of data collection, preparation, and analysis.
  • Calculate risks more accurately than C-3PO: Produce earlier identification of high-risk patterns in spending, codes of conduct, and across a network of partners and suppliers. 

The right platform can also drive new capabilities like text analytics, which can recognize specific assets on printed balance sheets, or robotic process automation, which can reconcile balances in multiple sub-ledgers. 

Overall, using analytics in audit makes the process faster and cheaper while offering better coverage in testing. And the technology is only going to get better—constant evolution continues to push what’s possible with new artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

Data and analytics superpowers for finance professionals

At the risk of beating a dead spreadsheet, getting full visibility across key financial management systems just can’t happen with manual data processing. With spreadsheets, data remains static, siloed, and hard to manipulate, so achieving organization-wide data domination is less likely than Warner Bros. ever making a good Green Lantern movie.

To stay competitive in today’s financial world, you need to be able to access and blend all relevant financial data from your internal systems and those of partners and suppliers. That’s a lot easier and faster with superpowered analytics solutions that can bring together data from multiple accounting ledgers and consolidate it for statutory reporting and sub-ledger account analysis in an automated fashion. 

After just a bit of experimentation with the right analytics platform, finance professionals can learn to:

  • Bring everything together better than Avengers: Endgame: Manage diverse and unstructured data sources to create high-quality reconciliations.
  • Keep more robust records than the Jedi archives: Standardize master data records using fuzzy matching and pattern recognition.
  • See the future better than Madame Web: More easily perform risk-weighted asset calculations for capital, interest rate risk modelling, sensitivity analysis, liquidity reporting, and compliance.

Data and analytics superpowers for accounting professionals

Quick, what’s the best superpower you could possibly have? Super strength? Not unless you want to crush your favorite co-worker’s ribs during your next celebratory chest bump. Flight? That’d be fun—until the bill for all the FAA violations you’ve committed comes due. 

No, the best superpower is the ability to manipulate time. Think about it: Put enough hours in the day and there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.

That’s exactly what the right analytics platform can do for accounting professionals. It gives you back the hundreds of hours you spend on manual data extraction and accrual calculations across multiple departments and inconsistent systems. 

With analytics, accountants can:

  • Get better transparency than Sue Storm: Automation around data extracts and accrual calculations creates transparency at review, and analytic workflows also make it easier to document the steps in the process—should issues arise.
  • Have better connections than Bezos or Gates: By having strong data connection options, accounting details can be seamlessly passed through to the journal after approvals are made.
  • Be more consistent than Superman saving Lois Lane: Analytics drive consistency and accuracy, freeing you up to do more with your superpowers than you ever thought possible.

Get data superpowers in a box with Alteryx

As you research analytics solutions for your organization, you’ll find that they generally fall into one of two categories:

  1. General use products providing few-to-zero specific accounting/finance functions.
  2. Traditional accounting software with some analytics capabilities shoehorned in, but lacking the raw power of general solutions.

Only Alteryx gives you the best of both worlds—a superpowered, proven analytics platform that’s been specifically customized to automate and enhance the tasks and processes most critical to accounting and financial success. Alteryx is an ideal solution for organizations of every shape and size, combining the robust capabilities large enterprises require with the flexible pricing and ease-of-use needed by smaller companies.

It’s time to push data domination across your organization and evolve to heroic levels of tax, audit, finance, and accounting analytics. With Alteryx, you can finally free your organization from manual steps and allow more time for the strategic analysis needed to unlock your data superpowers and put your firm on top.

Learn more about Alteryx and start your free trial >

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