Freeing up time to focus on reporting - IBM explains cognitive analytics at #findaba16

Two case studies show how Cognos Disclosure management saves CFOs a significant amount of time when generating reports.

Cognitive analytics are a range of different analytical strategies that are used to learn about different types of business-related functions, with data aggregated from diverse sources. At the Finance Indaba Africa, IBM invited Johan Naude, a principal consultant at KPMG, to explain how IBM's Cognos Disclosure Management has made a significant difference to two of his clients' reporting processes.

Johan's first client, a bank, implemented Cognos Disclosure Management and he says that two pieces of feedback always spring to mind when he thinks about their results. The first is that there were always inconsistencies in their reporting.

"The head of reporting said to me that he takes two weeks to check two things - when page numbers and notes are referred to in the text, that they are actually the correct page and note numbers. And I thought, surely not, I can't believe that a big man in a bank actually spends his time checking a stupid thing like that."

So Johan and his team automated that for him, and gave him two weeks of his life back.

The second thing that comes to Johan's mind is that the bank's integrated reporting brings information together from a number of different departments. "They put the information they want to talk about into the report, and then one person is eventually responsible for it all. Their email gets clogged up with all the updates and changes, and big mistakes start to come out because the person misses the updates."

So, with Disclosure Management, responsibility was given to the different departments to prepare their own reports, so that no more emails with updates were being sent, and nothing was getting missed.

"I spoke to them a while back and they say it's great. The finance guys can focus on numbers and financial statements, instead of trying to manage all the information for the whole company and putting the report together in a very short time."

A second KPMG implementation took place at one of the big media houses, which still reports in English and Afrikaans. When the auditors sign off on the English version, it gets sent off to the translators, and comes back with altered notations. "They were going through this massive process of anything from two to four weeks just to get the document translated into Afrikaans," says Johan.

When KPMG implemented the solution for him, they built it in such a way that the system took full ownership of both sets of languages and both sets of finances. "I saw him after the first reporting period, and he had a big smile on his face. He said that he did it in two days and it used to take a month," Johan says.

These two case studies highlight how Disclosure Management really saves users a lot of time.

"It's not a sexy area of finance and it doesn't look great. There are no pretty graphs on screen, but the finance department still needs to do its job and with tech like this, it puts a proper process in place and automates a lot of the manual processes, allowing finance people to spend their time on analysing data."