The CFO Is the Midmarket Company’s Unexpected New Data Chief: How Microsoft Technologies Empower CFOs to Own their Data

In this article, learn why you the CFO are your midmarket company's unexpected new data chief and how you can thrive in this role.

Table of Content

    Who wears the data chief crown at your organization? There’s something of a debate about who rightfully owns that title. Some advocate for the CIO, while others side with the CTO. Yet, an emerging trend among mid-market enterprises, especially those with limited IT resources, highlights a different contender: the CFO.

    That’s right. You—the CFO—are your midmarket company’s unexpected new data chief. You are now at the forefront—extracting, understanding, and applying data-driven insights to sculpt business strategies and drive decision-making. It may be a new role, but there are established tools, processes, and structures ready to help you thrive in this new world of data.

    Why SME CFOs are Becoming Data Experts

    CFOs are typically seen as the guardians of financial data. Their traditional role revolves around balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and economic forecasting. However, non-financial data is playing a greater role for CFOs, as they are now charged with managing data from multiple sources across the organization. This requires collaboration and access to data at a level not previously experienced. As a result, the CFO’s role is no longer confined to numbers on a ledger. Armed with a thorough understanding of financial data and overarching business strategies, you are perfectly poised to bridge the gap between data analytics and strategic business decisions.

    Small to mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) often operate within a constrained IT landscape. Unlike larger enterprises, you might not have the luxury of a dedicated CIO or a vast data strategy team. As a result, your organization needs to optimize costs while ensuring efficient data management and analysis. And this is where Microsoft’s suite of powerful, cost-effective technologies comes into play.

    Business Leaders Guide to the New Digital AgeBusiness Leaders Guide to the New Digital Age

    Harnessing the Power of Microsoft Technologies

    We’ve collected a list of Microsoft technologies that make ideal data analysis companions for modern CFOs. Each offers security, integration within and outside the Microsoft platform, scalability, and cost-effective pricing plans.

    Power BI

    Power BI stands out with its interactive visualizations paired with self-service business intelligence features. CFOs can harness its capabilities to craft insightful reports and dashboards, offering a panoramic, real-time view of a company’s health. For SMEs, where every resource counts, such real-time insights are invaluable in building strategic alignments. And talk about cost effectiveness—there’s even a free version of Power BI.

    • User-Friendly & Self-Service: Power BI has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, allowing CFOs and non-technical users to create reports and dashboards without a steep learning curve. This autonomy accelerates the decision-making process, creating a more agile approach to financial analysis that doesn’t rely heavily on IT teams.
    • Rich Visualization: One of Power BI’s strong suits is its wide range of visualization tools. CFOs can transform raw data into interactive charts, graphs, and reports, making it easier to decipher and present complex financial data.
    • Collaboration and Sharing: CFOs can share reports, dashboards, and insights with other team members, keeping everyone on the same page.

    Azure Data Platform

    The Azure Data Platform provides businesses with scalable, adaptable, and cost-efficient solutions tailored for data management and analytics. Companies can amalgamate vast data volumes from disparate sources, ensuring they always have a consistent and unified data source for actionable business intelligence. In addition to the integration and security features noted above, Azure Data Platform offers CFOs:

    • Comprehensive Data Management: Azure provides multiple data ingestion, storage, and analysis services. Whether it’s structured, semi-structured, or unstructured data, Azure can handle it, making it easier for CFOs to get a 360-degree view of their operations.
    • Advanced Analytics and AI: Azure offers cutting-edge machine learning and AI tools, allowing CFOs to delve deep into predictive analytics. It proves especially valuable for forecasting, risk assessment, and uncovering hidden patterns in your company’s financial data.
    • Automated Workflows: With Azure Logic Apps, you can automate workflows and integrate apps, data, and services, streamlining financial processes and minimizing manual tasks.

    Azure Data Lake Storage

    Microsoft Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) is primarily a large-scale data lake solution for big data analytics. Here’s why ADLS is particularly advantageous for you, the CFO:

    • Support for Diverse Data: ADLS can seamlessly handle structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. This versatility allows CFOs to consolidate all financial and operational data in one place, facilitating holistic analysis.
    • High-Speed Data Processing: Built for big data analytics, ADLS ensures that data processing is fast, delivering the timely insights crucial for strategic decision-making.
    • Data Retention and Lifecycle Management: You can establish policies to archive old data or move less frequently accessed data to more cost-effective storage tiers.

    Azure Synapse

    Azure Synapse (formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse) is an analytics service that brings together enterprise data warehousing and big data analytics. It provides a unified environment for data ingestion, preparation, and management. Here’s what makes it an ideal tool for the CFO data chief:

    • Machine Learning and AI Integration: Azure Synapse can integrate with Azure Machine Learning, allowing CFOs to implement predictive analytics models. It is invaluable for financial forecasting, risk assessment, and identifying market trends.
    • Automated Workflows: Azure Synapse supports creating automated workflows so you can automate various data operations, ensuring consistency and reducing manual intervention.
    • Serverless Data Exploration: Azure Synapse offers on-demand querying capabilities without the need for infrastructure provisioning or management. CFOs can explore data and derive insights without committing to a fixed cost structure, a boon for midmarket companies with tighter budgets.


    Excel’s omnipresence and widespread familiarity make it an indispensable data analysis. Its integration potential with other Microsoft products only accentuates its value, providing a seamless progression to more advanced data tools.

    Business Leaders Guide to Dynamics 365Business Leaders Guide to Dynamics 365
    • You know it and love it. And that’s worth gold.

    Weaving It All Together

    We’ve listed several Microsoft technologies here and understand you may feel uncertain about choosing the right ones for your organization—and you’re not alone. Microsoft Fabric is a service that brings all of these technologies (save for Excel) under one AI-powered blanket. Fabric acts like a central hub that connects your tools and data in smart, sensible ways. Velosio can help you determine if Fabric is the right option for your business.

    Embrace the Role

    Determining the rightful data chief may remain under debate for the time being. But one thing is indisputable: an SME’s CFO is not just a financial chief but a data visionary. By strategically leveraging Microsoft’s suite of technologies, CFOs are demonstrating that successful data management and analytics aren’t limited to enterprises with a large IT team. Success is fundamentally about harnessing and applying the available tools and resources.

    Velosio works with the CFOs (and the CIOs and CTOs if you invite them!) of midmarket organizations like yours, helping you optimize Microsoft technology in the most cost-effective and efficient ways. Let’s start a conversation about how we can support you in your role as data chief.

    Enabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft PlatformEnabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft Platform