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Netflix’s Okja and Cloud Financial Reporting: The Parallels of Powerful Storytelling

This article will look at the power of modern cloud financial reporting through the lens of powerful storytelling, as delivered by Netflix’s Okja.

Sometimes, a movie comes along that captures a generation and perhaps even changes the culture. But unfortunately, with the amount of content and sheer number of options to stream, view, or purchase movies, television, and other video, it’s hard for any particular movie to stand out and captivate such a wide audience. That said, I have recently watched a Netflix original film, called Okja, and while it definitely got a solid promotional campaign in my part of the world, I don’t think it has quite permeated the culture the way that it arguably should have. However, a key takeaway for this one-time English major was the power of storytelling as a way to enable decision-making. This article will focus on how the right kind of storytelling can drive world-class decision-making, from Okja to financial reporting.

In order to use Okja as a comparison, I need to start by saying there will be some spoilers in this article. As in, from this point forward, if you don’t want any aspect of the Netflix movie spoiled, you might want to stop reading now. That said, I’m hoping to keep my “spoilers” to a minimum. Let’s start with a synopsis from Google: “For 10 idyllic years, young Mija has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when family-owned, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where an image-obsessed and self-promoting CEO has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend. With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission.” If you haven’t already deduced, the movie uses a science fiction version of a relatable animal (a fictional breed called “superpig”) to show the alleged evils of the food industry, specifically the commodification of animal beings that are assembly lined for one fictional company’s profits.

If I were to describe the film as a fictional storyline that focuses on exposing the evils of the food industry and specifically, their treatment of animals, you might expect to leave the film with a clear path forward. You might have been enlightened, you might have appreciated the narrative form as it affirms your already-held beliefs, or you might disagree with the perspective altogether, but at the end of the movie, you would likely have a resolute perspective on how to proceed, given the information presented. Presenting the elements of a child’s relationship with an animal – and the flip side of animals as production line items – typically produces a food industry resistant conclusion, so let’s explore this likely perspective as an end result. And let’s look at how modern cloud financial reporting can create a similar effect.

Financial reporting has been around for decades and decades, but as technologies continue to evolve and more recently, move to the cloud, companies are able to make richly informed decisions anywhere, on any browser-based device, that are important to remaining competitive. Not just general ledger (GL) analyses, but sub-ledger drill down is also available with the right tools that are continuing to innovate. In talking to finance and accounting folks over the years, their high level description of financial reporting (and budgeting) has been some version of: telling the story of the organization, so that decisions can be informed and made about how to support, invest in, move in a different direction, and/or reallocate resources and financials in the future. And at the end of these reports, financial statements, or even a form of narrative reporting, decision-makers can do so with data expertly braided together from your sources of company information. What should you be looking for to achieve that Okja storytelling effect?

First and foremost, if you’re looking to move beyond either a homegrown reporting process, a native reporting function within your accounting system, or an outdated, simplistic offering like manual Excel report formatting, FRx or Management Reporter, you should probably go straight to the cloud. I say this because cloud technologies are taking over the enterprise software realm, so if you are looking to upgrade and move your financial reporting efforts toward the future, you should look for a business user friendly, modern, and complete cloud financial reporting tool.

When I say complete, I specifically mean strong data integrations and a cloud data warehouse to combine all of your storytelling efforts into one place for rich reporting that crosses t’s and dots i’s with data from all of the sources you need. Okja combines the perspective and innocence of childhood with a heartbreakingly lovable animal character and an easy-to-understand representation of the food industry to deliver an intended, actionable conclusion for viewers. Star power like Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal helps bring it home, but when you are producing financial reports with data from multiple sources, some on-premises and some in the cloud, both deep integrations to your data sources and a data warehouse can make or break your reporting experience in this cloud era. Integrating your data from your diverse sources is obviously important, but a data warehouse – why? A data warehouse provides a singular, high performance space for you to consolidate and leverage all of your data from sources whether they be on-premises or in the cloud, without having to log in and out of all of your different source and navigate using individual, built-in reporting tools. And to top it off, the best cloud reporting solutions also provides “storyboards” or “playlists” where the finance team can easily assemble reports together for powerful presentations to executives, board of directors or department heads.

There are plenty of additional things to consider when investing in one of today’s best cloud financial report writers to produce organizational storytelling that truly enables decision-making. For example, you’ll likely benefit the most from an Excel-powered, web-based reporting tool that is situated within a full suite of corporate performance management solutions, like budgeting, dashboards, and a data warehouse. However, there are options that are proprietary, on-premises, standalone offerings that also might meet your needs. That said, even in the storytelling of Okja, the filmmakers position their narrative in today’s world, but use futuristic elements to broaden their impact for future viewers. You should do the same and consider the user experience and your technology roadmap when selecting the right tool to tells the organizational story in actionable ways. Lots to consider and Solver, Inc. is happy to answer any questions and review BI360’s easy-to-use, Excel- and web-based reporting solution that enables teamwork and streamlined decision-making capabilities, both in the cloud and on-premises.

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