Make Money with Your Data

  Less than thirty years ago, most small and medium-sized businesses knew their customers personally and had a depth of wisdom on their customers, best and worst. The local butcher knew which cuts of meat his patrons liked best. The baker knew when people came in for their bakery items. The barber knew the preferred hair cuts and shave types of his ‘regulars’ and when to expect them to arrive for their next hair cut.Between big box stores, global manufacturing and the internet, business as we knew it has transformed. However, with that transformation has arisen new transactional data, called Big Data, to help everyone across companies understand and help their customers better than ever. And it’s not just big enterprises with sophisticated IT capabilities that benefit from Big Data. Thanks to cloud-based providers—which offer access to massive amounts of data, and the ability to analyze it, without great cost—today’s small businesses can use Big Data to better understand customers, optimize operational efficiencies and better plan for the future. Free Big Data-enabled services You’re probably already using one or more of the many cloud services offering Big Data capabilities. Google Analytics, which can help you understand where your web traffic comes from, how site users behave and optimize your site to convert visitors to customers. Twitter, Facebook and Yelp, which can provide real-time insight into customer sentiment about your brand. LinkedIn, employing specific keywords to find prospects, partners or job candidates. QuickBooks, which offers free industry-wide data analytics. Government sites, to search for census, economic, or environmental or weather data. Public databases like CrunchBase, which offers information about the...

Benchmark your IT Costs

http://www.gartner.com/technology/metrics/   1. The Purpose to Do IT Spend Benchmarking CIO must do some benchmarking not only to justify the dollar amounts spent but also to make sure that the company is spending a reasonable portion of its revenue on IT relative to other companies in the industry to be able to keep it in business in the long run. Cost Optimization: Adjustments should be made to these IT spending numbers by shifting the spending figures on a yearly basis after closely evaluating the key IT performance metrics in a micro and macro environment to achieve cost optimization for the business. The bottom line is that the CIO should be able to show that with the multi-million dollar investment in IT that he is proposing, the company will achieve a lower overall expense in the future. IT spending per worker seems to be more consistent but still widely variable. What is always true is that there will be IT spend that can be cut or avoided and there is more value that can be extracted. Benchmarking is a way of learning from other organizations: Comparing to external benchmarks is a healthy exercise and positions the CIO as a critical thinker who assesses the company from both an internal and external perspective. Tangible benefits can also be realized. But it is not to construct measures to beat the internal organization into submission. Sadly such crude measures have led organizations to make decisions that are based on short-term cost savings that lead to higher costs downstream or even worse, loss of competitive position. Most CEO & CFO are interested in benchmark data...

3 Keys to Data Driven Decision Making

The 3 Keys to Data Driven Decision Making   The potential benefits of big data & analytics should come as no surprise to any companies operating today. Data has provided business owners and executives a priceless tool to illuminate previously imperceptible trends and strategies, leading to strengthened operations and employee relations and an improved customer experience. According to a study conducted by Adaptive Insights, nearly 70% of CFO’s rank data-based insights as the top influence on strategic business decisions. This means a significant number of decisions are being driven by data.   In order to take advantage of this level of data integration in an effective manner, here are 3 crucial points to consider:   Transactions and Data: Mining Your Raw Materials Some people get overwhelmed by the amount of data or the data sources to pull from in order to get the information they need.  On top of that, the various systems and tools generating and providing data through today’s continuously developing tech can seem overwhelming.   The key is to keep the big picture in mind and ensure you stay focused on the question you are trying to answer or insight you are looking for. “Analytics is largely about discovering relationships that aren’t intuitively obvious. By definition, the interesting discoveries are intuitively very uncomfortable — if it doesn’t seem right and you can’t trust your gut, then you’ve got to trust the numbers. That’s hard for people” says Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent. If there is some level of hesitancy when it comes to incorporating data & analytics, just remember that goal; you are trying to answer...

Improving Efficiency of Financial Reporting

The manual process of completing a business’s external or public reporting has become unnecessarily time consuming, often leaving employees over burdened with busy work. What many CPA’s, CFO’s and other executives are starting to realize, is that by automating these processes preparation time can be dramatically reduced, and incorrect disclosures can be avoided. How are manual processes ineffective? A majority of financial statements are prepared using Word and Excel, leading to a process that consists of thousands of manual steps. These steps include a large amount of typing, copying and pasting, as well as revisions and maintenance across multiple documents. When a change is made to just one number, it often has to be reflected in several other places. All of these manual steps leave the door wide open for input errors and inconsistencies, which can cause an incorrect disclosure. Moreover, compliance rarely dictates the structure of manual reporting, giving rise to inefficiencies and lack of attention to current standards. How can the right automation software improve efficiency? The biggest boost in efficiency that automation generates is through the 100’s of hours of time it can save. One of the most effective pieces of automation software we have come across, is from IFRS System, and with it companies saw preparation time reduced by hundreds of hours. A big reason for the amount of time saved through automation is the elimination of consolidation spreadsheets. Instead of 20+ drafts, employees in charge of public reporting would only have to work through up to 4 drafts. This obviously entails a change to pre-existing processes, but it will ultimately increase productivity and improve...
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