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The incalculable potential and potential pitfalls of the quantified organisation

CFO Insights

In this issue of CFO Insights, we examine the rise of the “quantified organisation”—what it is, the potential impacts on businesses and what it could mean for chief financial officers.


Science fiction can have a funny way of becoming science fact in the real world. Handheld communicators appeared to morph into mobile phones.1 Computer-assisted cars may have presaged, well…computer-assisted cars.2 And gadget-laden wrist watches seem to have anticipated biometric fitness trackers.3

That last example likely has significant implications for business leaders. Advances in biometrics—once used primarily to authenticate someone’s identity using fingerprints or retina scans—have made their way onto the factory floor and office, enabling companies to track worker movement and safety.4 Similarly, wearables based on neurotechnology can now deliver detailed and accurate information about employees’ mental activity.5

Likewise, long-gestating concepts like AI and machine learning can now make it possible for businesses to process—and analyse—previously untapped sources of worker information. Email, for example, tends to produce voluminous amounts of data. Harnessed properly and appropriately, deep-learning tools can provide high-resolution snapshots of, among other things, worker interaction and collaboration, well-being and engagement.

The upshot? Businesses may have an unparalleled opportunity to make operational and strategic decisions based on now-quantifiable facts, not assumptions. The information can help managers identify production bottlenecks and uncover unutilised skills across the business. For finance, likely applications include linking new sources of operational data to financial data to generate insights into what’s driving product or service demand and profitability in specific units. CFOs will likely have a part to play in other areas as well, such as risk management, compliance and ROI analysis.

Wringing value from data collection requires thoughtful planning. Indeed, the collection of employee data tends to come with its own set of challenges. Senior executives should take great care to comply with rules and regulations governing access to, and use of, worker information. They should also address any worries workers or other stakeholders might have about tracking worker data. A key consideration: employers should strictly limit data collection efforts to employees who have been informed properly—and given their consent beforehand— regarding the data their employers seek to collect. Additional requirements and restrictions exist outside of the United States.

In this issue of CFO Insights, we examine the rise of the “quantified organisation”—what it is, the potential impacts on businesses and what it could mean for chief financial officers.

About Deloitte's CFO Programme

The CFO Programme brings together a multi-disciplinary team of Deloitte leaders and subject-matter specialists to help CFOs stay ahead in the face of growing challenges and demands. The Programme harnesses our organisation’s broad capabilities to deliver forward-thinking and fresh insights for every stage of a CFO’s career—helping CFOs manage the complexities of their roles, tackle their company’s most compelling challenges and adapt to strategic shifts in the market.

Learn more about Deloitte’s CFO Programme.

1Why Captain Kirk's Call Sparked A Future Tech Revolution,” Forbes, 3 April 2013.

2Where to? A History of Autonomous Vehicles," Computer History Museum, 8 May 2014.

3How Science Fiction Influenced Modern Smartwatch Design,” Gear Patrol, 11 March 2022.

4Warehouses Are Tracking Workers’ Every Muscle Movement,” Bloomberg, 5 November 2019.

5Neurotechnology at Work,” Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2023.

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