From all the great moments I recall during my days in controlling and treasury, one that always stood out to me was the daily 10 AM coffee meetings with my entire team. It was over a morning cup that we openly discussed problems, bounced around solutions, highlighted business challenges that needed to be tackled and considered the insights we had to produce for the CFO, management and business partners.

What took place during these 20 minute meetings summed up what I truly enjoyed about working in finance: an unbiased, calm discussion based on information everyone had and analytics that everyone had or could easily produce. The level of confidence and comfort around the team was palatable. The trust in our data and reports was unmistakable. Was that team made of superheroes? Ivy league educated people? Not at all. Were they workaholics sacrificing their nights and weekends to make things right? Absolutely not. Were they terrorized by me and the management? I sincerely hope not. What made the difference is that every day, we would wake up to fresh new data that had been captured, processed, organized, connected during the night by our efficient finance systems.

Our first responsibility was no longer about finding the data, or how many macros we would need to run or debug to have a clean data set. It was about reading the information, as if it was an open book, and leveraging our smarts, corporate experience and creativity to find new ways to save the day. This automated process of flawless data collection may seem like a small detail in our overall data management sequence, but it made a world of a difference. It impacted people, their behavior, level of comfort and confidence. The availability of a solution that offered clean, up-to-date data, seamlessly accessed by the team exponentially improved our ability to serve our organization.

An essential part of the data analytics wave we’re all getting on is the ability to capture and centralize key data points regardless of the number of systems, volume and complexity of underlying sources. This is the base for accurate analytics and, above all, the foundation in empowering teams to focus all their experience, working power and collaboration on the actual problem; investigation instead of data crunching. This is the art of ETL (Extract – Transform – Load) that we should all learn to master or at least control. Whether they are stand alone or integrated, choosing solutions that make us data ready each morning is key to the success of the next generation in finance.

I hope all of us will have the luxury to enjoy productive meetings. Ones where entire teams can have the opportunity to not only serve our organizations and business partners, but also fully experience doing the job we truly enjoy.