Too Little, Too Late? The Future of Controlling

Too Little, Too Late? The Future of Controlling

Controlling is constantly fighting for their place within the corporation. Today, there is an opportunity for controlling to break out of their “bean counter” jail. The essence of controlling is planning and reporting. Planning is challenging because, as a Danish proverb says, “Prediction is difficult, especially when dealing with the future.” Along the same vein, reporting is tough because it answers only those questions where the potential answer is already known. As a consequence, controlling contributions are perceived more or less as “too little, too late.” This is the reason why controlling has been in a standstill situation for more than 25 years (1990 saw the birth of the Balanced Score Card). Now, the “business of predictions” is experiencing its second wind: artificial intelligence is back. Machine Learning is the buzzword of the day. In our daily lives, we have become reliant on predictions; might it be Google or Amazon proposals of all sorts, or might it be the car navigation system which brings us safely and quickly to our destination. Actually, I must admit that I sometimes find it nearly scary what systems know about my intentions and behavior. We abound in algorithms. Algorithms have evolved for a long time. Machine learning was first mentioned in 1959, and Artificial Intelligence in 1956. I personally lived through the first hype cycle of Expert Systems in 80’s. Those systems worked in highly specialized niches but they never conquered broader grounds. How come? Computers were just not fast enough. Data could not be processed fast enough. This situation caused the “fall of mankind”—the introduction of OLAP technologies which, in essence, attempted...