The economic world has changed for good. Post-global financial crisis, confidence has turned to concern, buyouts have transformed into bailouts and businesses have endured severe stress. Amid uncertain and shifting business environments there is a new opportunity for financial firms to redesign strategic success through the use of next-generation reporting and business intelligence (BI) tools.

The goal of BI is to achieve a single version of the truth by making sense of the industry buzzword "big data" -- high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets. For the CFO and financial department, three of the biggest barriers to handling big data are complexity, high costs, and the need for real-time insight. However some industries, such as retail, health care, and manufacturing, have conquered these challenges with powerful BI tools, leaving behind important lessons for finance executives.