The Death of Business Intelligence

Why should finance take over business intelligence?

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 29, 2013

Information is mined by programmers and technicians, but when it comes to the processing of data, the Journal of Accountancy argues the finance department should be taking the lead role.

Data has transformed most roles in the business sphere, but the corporate finance function has been particularly affected by the influx of information. According to Donny Shimamoto, a certified information technology professional at Chartered Global Management Accountant, finance should own the business intelligence (BI) role for the good of accountants and the good of the organization.

Speaking at the AICPA Financial Planning & Analysis Conference in Las Vegas, he explained that there are three reasons why finance should focus more onBI. First and foremost, the finance department can usually add clarity, accuracy and relevance to what is often just confusing numbers to those without the skills or expertise to process. A recent Gartner report says that businesses are “still struggling to make progress with (business intelligence) andanalytics”, which is why employing those with analytical skills can add insight to information.

Secondly, senior officials often perceive information coming from the finance department as being more trustworthy and valid. Accountants are seen as ‘purveyors of the truth’ in an organisation, and there is a certain validity that accompanies information processed by accountants.

Finally, the rise in analytics represents an opportunity for finance to shift toward a role of business partner. Accountants “can go beyond traditional cost control and start to evolve the role to be looking at the organization as a whole and discussing how to best optimize the performance,” Shimamoto says.

In order to adapt to the new corporate finance function, the role of accountants should be broken into four quadrants. There will be the traditional steward/controller role, the trusted reporter role and compliance duties which are already incorporated into most positions. But along with these functions, there will also be a move towards more technical expertise. This is the one Shimamoto hopes finance can become more attuned with.

“Finance is the key to help unlock the power of business intelligence,” he said. “The tools have evolved to become so user-friendly that you don’t need IT to help get the information. It’s evolved now so finance can do it all on (its) own. That’s a huge change within the last decade.”

That’s where DS Panel’s Performance Canvas comes in. With Performance Canvas, finance professionals can track business opportunities and create visual alerts when new opportunities arise. They can also optimize budget cycles, create and store multiple what-if scenarios and deploy them depending on the business situation and monitor forecast vs actual expenditures in real-time. All of this comes in a zero-footprint, Excel or Web based financial client, to make adaption seamless.

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Advantages of mobile BI

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 26, 2013

Mobility is paramount in the contemporary corporate world and it is no longer practical to run operations from the confines of an office-based desktop.

An interesting column in the BBC’s Magazine recently tracked the history of the office in Britain, finding that the earliest usage of office space was The East India Company, which required a space to manage their increasingly expanding empire. With paperwork and bureaucratic duties accompanying the company’s growth as a trading company, East India House in London became the earliest form of the modern ‘headquarters’ we recognise today, used to process information and make decisions about things taking place thousands of miles away.

Indeed, The East India Company were responsible for pioneering many traits of modern commerce. ‘Working hours’ and clerical duties around the office were also formed in these early stages, and even work-related stress came about as workers struggled to accept their new roles spending each day copying out letters and accounts with no prospect of promotion. But reflecting on the modern corporate sphere, one gets the impression that the foundations laid by the old trading company are being gradually eroded, as businesses acclimatise themselves to a new mobile world.

The obsolete office

Remote working has long been a desirable concept, but it is only recently that it has been facilitated by technology. Phones and emails are customary components on modern phones, but managers require the entire business to be at their fingertips if it is to become fully mobile. DS Panel’s Performance Canvas mobile BI Server offers users mobile access to dashboards, scorecards and other forms of business intelligence through a high performance server platform with an integrated zero-footprint design studio. Here’s why it pays to go mobile:

– Keep in touch: managers can keep in touch with the business situation and communicate with teams in real time to initiate action.

– Easy dashboard and scorecard formulation: It is quick and easy to create performance dashboards or scorecards based on the defined business terms using nothing but a web browser responding to a new business need.

– Always connected: Performance Dashboard and Scorecards can be shared with other users by emailing a simple link.

According to a study by the Aberdeen Group in May, the key advantage for companies is an increased ability to gain business insights (52 per cent), followed by more information during customer interactions (43 per cent), and increased mobile employee productivity (27 per cent). The survey found 57 per cent of respondents are considering deploying a mobile BI strategy, with 62 per cent of these planning to implement it over the next 12 months.

Firms slow to capitalise on mobile BI

But although more than half of organisations are mulling a mobile BI strategy, few are taking the initiative and implementing one. That was the results from a recent study of 500 organisations conducted by Jaspersoft. They found that despite 85 per cent of respondents recognising the advantages of accessing BI tools on mobile devices, only eight per cent have deployed it so far, prompting experts to say that more urgency is needed in the market in order for the benefits of a mobile workforce to be recognised.

If you looking to augment your existing product line with a well established, high quality and low priced BI and Planning solution, Performance Canvas has already been embedded by NASDAQ-listed enterprise vendors as well as private software companies. Contact us to find out about the benefits of embedding Performance Canvas into your software today!

Dashboards and politics; BI at number 10

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 23, 2013

The private sector function of business intelligence dashboards may soon be transferred into the public realm as world leaders look to get an up-to-date, detailed view of current events affecting their jurisdictions.

British prime minister David Cameron has collaborated with the government’s internal IT team to create an application that keeps track of live data relating to areas such as jobs, the economy and housing. Using a typical business dashboard, the PM is presented with a range of valuable information with a few swipes of his tablet device, which can help inform on vital decisions and could transform several public office duties if successful.

Making data palatable has become a vital component of business intelligence systems as more managers without data backgrounds look to capitalise on the wealth of data available to make informed decisions. In order to make this possible, forging better relations with the IT department is crucial, which is precisely what Mr Cameron has looked to achieve in 10 Downing Street.

However, in the private sector, this marriage of business leaders and technology experts has yet to come to fruition. A recent study by computing.co.uk revealed that there is a mismatch between IT and business users in terms of expectations and delivery of BI projects. At the centre of the mismatch is confusion over what business managers want from their BI projects until after the project is completed. This happens when the information isn’t up-to-date and isn’t accessible, leaving key data lost in translation.

Simon Ryan of computing.co.uk said the difference between successful BI projects and unsuccessful ones is when “IT has anticipated that users will want more and have chosen a BI or dashboard solution that is fast to build, with a pricing structure that does not penalise successful adoption, which can accommodate any internal or external data source without complex data modelling, and can be deployed to any PC, tablet or smartphone.”

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas is a complete business intelligence solution designed to give end users the power to create and modify visual analytics and dashboards, to answer any question at any time. Users can create new dashboards or work on existing ones right from their favorite mobile device, democratising information and putting key insights into the hands of decision makers.

Disparate data ‘difficult to define as a unified asset’

Posted in Business Intelligence by TheLondonEconomic on July 18, 2013

Most data management problems occur because disparate data is difficult to define as a unified asset.

Organisations, regardless of the industry, are struggling to capitalize on the opportunities of big data because disparate sets of information are not being harmonized.

When you consider the many operational systems that are in play in a typical organisation, from the finance department to sales and marketing functions, it is easy to paint a picture of how chaotic information generation can become. As data increases in volume, velocity and variety, there is too much information in too many places to make an accurate decision in the timeframe in which it is needed. Analysts know that the answers to business problems are buried in their data, but being unable to unearth the right information is hampering efforts to determine those answers.

To highlight how data is being disparately accumulated and the problems this may cause, we’ve selected two industries where ITC departments are being tasked with harmonizing a wide range of information, and look at some potential solutions to get organisations back on track.

Healthcare

Healthcare is an umbrella term used to describe a million different things. What’s more, many of its components are becoming digitized, which makes pulling in the same direction extremely taxing. Whether it be e-prescribing, electronic medical records (EMRs), digital imaging scans, pharmacy data, lab data, admissions systems, billing systems, insurance claims data or regional health information exchanges, extracting insight in an innovative industry is tricky without consolidating the data at hand.

There are three reasons why information collected in different formats by systems that are not interoperable is likely to yield few insights. A recent blog from American Sentinel University outlined that, first and foremost, medical data exists in silos, which means there is no one repository of all its data. Furthermore, there is a lot of problematic data redundancy occurring when providers duplicate patient data in unlinked files, and much of the data is variable in format and content.

In order to rectify this, a set of processes, governance policies, standards, and tools that permit the disparate data integration must be incorporated. DS Panel’s Performance Canvas offers a flexible work-based solution which can respond to the pace of patient care. It allows you to track and monitor ward or departmental workflow, optimize your patient costs and budgets, report on transfer payments and monitor forecast versus actual patient waiting times, as well as create ad-hoc and flash reports and deliver them in a variety of format and track performance using proven balanced scorecard metrics.

Hospitality

Hospitality provides an excellent example of how big data can be transformed into company-wide functionality and revenue gains. Like most industries, the digitization of the sector has led to a vast accumulation of information which has been gathered from disparate sources and in different forms.

Demand for analytics in hospitality has soared because for hotels, casinos, restaurants and resorts, having consolidated information about guests and patrons is essential to delivering good customer service, managing loyalty programs and targeting appropriate offers and promotions.

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas is a unique software solution which allows managers to keep track of everything from top F&B sales, room occupancy and much more for one property or 1,000 properties, right in their web browsers or mobile devices. Revenue managers and financial professionals are also given a holistic approach to their tasks, ensuring that functionality is run under one roof.

Big data ‘to transform hospitality’

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 17, 2013

A new study has found that big data is set to transform the hospitality industry.

A major global study has underlined the role big data has to play in improving the customer experience in the hospitality world, finding new analytical systems have the power to transform the industry.

Hotels, travel agencies and other industry players are increasingly looking to unlock the power of big data in order to create a more seamless customer journey that is tailored to the individual needs of modern web users. With more information than ever readily available, the Amadeus research shows that companies can enhance their competitive position by utilising data.

The study, entitled ‘At the Big Data Crossroads: turning towards a smarter travel experience’, revealed that hotels could be pioneers in providing operational and technical insights about big data adoption. With many already embracing big data to enhance their financial performance, a more distinctive experience for hotel guests could be on the horizon. Overall, the study pointed to three areas in which big data could help streamline operations.

Revenue

Analytics can be used to establish the optimal price for rooms based on basic supply and demand principles, ensuring that fewer rooms are left empty at night and the optimum daily revenue is being sought for busy periods. The same logic can be used for price optimisation in restaurants, catering, and meeting spaces too.

Investment

Big data can lead to better informed investment decisions, employing the ‘test and learn’ approach to determine what kinds of capital investments are worthwhile. This can save capital being wasted on unworthy projects and ensure that the right investments are being made.

Relationships

Finally, and arguably most crucially, is building better relations with clients.  With more information than ever at their fingertips, managers and sales-driven personnel can ensure they provide the best customer service possible by tracking trends and adopting service approaches and marketing campaigns appropriately.

DS Panel

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas can create deployment scenarios that allow managers to keep track of everything from top F&B sales, room occupancy and much more for one property or 1,000 properties, right in their web browsers or mobile devices. Revenue managers and financial professionals can create and track multiple budgets, scenarios, and forecasts right in Excel without having to keep track of multiple spreadsheets. Board members can create top down or managers can create bottom up plans and scenarios that can be deployed as and when changes occur.

Interpreting 2.5 quintillion bytes

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 16, 2013

IBM estimate that 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data is generated every day, but how can companies exploit the possibilities of big data?

There is an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data generated every day, but despite growing familiarity with big data, many firms are unsure of its uses within the corporate sphere.

The big data explosion resulted from the voluntary divulgence of information from billions of internet users across the globe. Presented with lemons, the tech industry immediately set about making lemonade by creating analytical tools that place more insight than ever before directly in the hands of decision makers, who are suddenly waking up to the immense possibilities being presented to them.

Allen Bonde, founder of Small Data Group, told Business Technology that in order for big data to be relevant, insights need to be presented in a way anyone can grasp. He says: “With data, it’s like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where you are looking for a number which is the meaning of life.

“But with big data, you need to know that number, but also how that number was derived. And you then need to explain the insights from that in a way everyone can understand.”

New technology and analytical tools are making more sophisticated work possible and placing new powers in the hands of decision makers. Once the preserve of data scientists and IT experts, businesses managers, financial controllers and many other professionals have the tools to explore a range of crucial information in order to make informed decisions.

DS Panel offers complete business intelligence solutions designed to give end users the power to create and modify visual analytics and dashboards, to answer any question, any time! The 360 degree planning models place easy-to-interpret data in the hands of the appropriate professionals, creating streamlined processes, eradicating waste and generating revenue.

Operational Intelligence: There’s no time like the present

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 15, 2013

New research by Aberdeen Group shows real-time operational intelligence provides decision makers with the ability to identify opportunities for improvement and recognise risk.

New research by Aberdeen Group has confirmed the ability of operational intelligence in identifying opportunities and recognising risk, but highlights that unless the information is up-to-date, companies may be overlooking vital indicators.

‘Real-Time Operational Intelligence: There’s No Time like the Present’, prepared by Peter Krensky, senior research associate in Aberdeen’s Business Analytics practice, revealed that operational intelligence is now providing decision makers with the ability to identify opportunities for improvement and recognize concealed risks. However, business threats and broken processes can linger unnoticed for dangerously long periods if the information provided is not up-to-date or relevant.

The finance department is confronted with the fast-paced, ever changing nature of the contemporary corporate world on a daily basis, which is why having the relevant data to support their duties is crucial. According to Aberdeen Group’s research, organizations with  real-time operational intelligence achieve 160 per cent improved inventory turns, and increase the frequency with which they obtain information within the decision window.

The data also highlights the ability of real-time information in driving revenue while reducing costs. By identifying and correcting problems faster, companies utilising real-time software  maximize output, leading to an 11 per cent improvement in cash generated from operations, the research found. What’s more, the ability to act on relevant information allows these firms to better make deadline-driven decisions, with almost a third (29 per cent) of firms using such solutions likely to have the relevant information on hand in crucial periods compared to firms without.

DS Panel’s Performance Canvas is a flexible platform that can work with multiple businesses and industries. With its end user driven visual analysis and Excel-based planning solution, the learning curve is low enough for every business to gain insights into their customers, suppliers, partners and even their own operations. The information is up-to-date and relevant, ensuring that all areas are covered.

International financial reporting standards ‘need change’

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 4, 2013

International financial reporting standards (IFRS) used to judge a company’s financial health are not up to scratch, Conservative Member of European Parliament (MEP) Syed Kamal has argued.

Speaking to the Financial Director, he said the IFRS – which have been used prior to, during, and after the crash – does not give a true and accurate account of a bank’s balance sheet. What’s more, investors seem to have become attuned to its outdated function within the corporate realm, which is reflected by the discount many banks are currently trading at in the markets against their stated asset value.

Globally converged accounting standards are certainly desirable in the contemporary financial landscape, but they must be prudentially sound in order to work. European and American accounting models are inherently different. In the US, financial standards are geared towards corporate governance, and by merging the two together under the mandate of the G20 and International Accounting Standards Board, the effects of each system have been diluted with damaging implications.

“Investors are concerned that the IFRS has encouraged a move away from the principle of prudence, whereby accounts must not overstate assets or understate liabilities, profits should only be booked once they are realised, and sufficient funds are put aside to cover any potential losses,” Mr Kamal told the Financial Director.

Instead, financial institutions are using accounting systems based on neutrality, which encourages auditors to move away from exercising professional scepticism to simply ticking boxes. In part, it is this practice of ‘tick boxing’ that allowed the financial meltdown to happen, with financial institutions not storing enough funds to cover their exposure to credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations.

An alternative system

Accounting practices should ensure that appropriate levels of loan loss provisions are in place, which means returning to a system that predates convergence in the ‘80s, Mr Kamal argues. The European Financial Reporting Advisory Group must take on a greater role in ensuring that adequate reporting methods are in place that accurately reflect performance, whether that be through new reporting standards or capital buffers.

DSPanel technology is a 360 degree financial planning and performance management solution which enables your financial operations to run quickly, efficiently and with fewer spreadsheets.

Top 5 uses of BI in the finance department

Posted in Uncategorized by TheLondonEconomic on July 3, 2013

Business intelligence (BI) is integral to corporate financial performance. We look at five areas in which BI is taking on a prominent role.

Financial professionals are increasingly turning to business intelligence (BI) systems to consolidate data from multiple sources and perform analyses of corporate financial performance, but how is the technology being put to use and in what ways can BI aid your financial duties?

For contemporary corporates, information is the engine that drives growth. BI is a vital tool for transforming data into actionable information and for deriving knowledge from disparate data sets, and its widespread use across a variety of industries is validation that no matter what field a business operates within, data is playing an integral role.

According to a new study from Cisco, the Internet of Everything (bringing together people, processes and data) will lead to an accumulative $613 billion in global profits this year because of improved operations, customer  service and other benefits. The index study of 7,500 global businesses in 12 countries found data was becoming “increased in value as ‘everything’ joins the network”, which means data management cannot be overlooked.

Finance directors are becoming prime users of corporate, business performance management. Data tailored to meet the demands of the finance function enables professionals to deliver timely and accurate information to drive business decisions, which is revolutionizing their role within the boardroom. As leading providers of business intelligence, performance management and structured financial operations solutions, we take a look at five ways in which new technologies are being utilised within the profession.

Planning, budgeting and forecasting

BI is increasingly being used in the contribution, aggregation, manipulation and approval of the financial plan, often on a continual basis. Once viewed as a periodic element of the business process, the financial plan has become a living, breathing thing within the corporate sphere, and continual updates using up-to-date information allows the company to keep on track of all developments.

Financial consolidations and reporting

Legal and statutory consolidation systems, along with more generalised financial statement generation capabilities, are in vogue as compliance and regulation play a bigger role within company processes. As a matter of best practice, regular reporting and data consolidation are becoming key.

Financial analytics and dashboards

Data management has been transformed from a passive noun to an active verb. Instead of simply hoarding information, companies are now looking at profitability applications, role-specific dashboards, metrics, and specific financial analytics to generate detailed financial processes.

Financial governance, risk management, and compliance

Financial governance and control requirements – particularly as companies work across borders – is important in enabling companies to comply with diverse reporting standards.

Scorecards and strategy

Technology is being utilised to generate methodology-based scorecards, such as the balanced scorecard, and strategy management applications, to give better insight and drive business decisions.

DSPanel

DSPanel is a leader in end user focused business intelligence and structured financial planning technology. They use BI technology to enable organizations and individuals to create dashboards and ad-hoc analysis that can answer any question, facilitate collaboration and enable smarter decisions.