The astonishing volume of data generated through QR codes, surveys, emails, artificial intelligence, advanced business software and online customer interactions is opening up new, unprecedented opportunities for companies armed with the right analytics tools.
About 90% of all the world’s data has been generated in the last two years alone, according to research giant Statistica, and the annual total could double by 2025. So harnessing the insights becoming available is a powerful weapon for accountants that positions them firmly at the heart of corporate strategy.
But too many are still relying on outdated analysis platforms, such as Excel, that simply can’t provide their clients with the financial functionality that would give them a compettive edge.
Often, the ability to obtain cross-functional metrics isn’t available because the data isn’t consolidated and structured, so isn’t being measured.
“If parts of your business aren’t tracked, it’s impossible to fully understand what’s happening,” says Jordena Tibble, product manager at Phocas Software. “The more detail an accountant has about a client, from inventory data to accounts receivable, the more insight there’ll be into the factors affecting every department.”
Pictured: Jordena Tibble CA, Phocas
“The more detail an accountant has about a client, the more insight there’ll be into the trends affecting every department.”
A growing trend
Examining such relative performances, however, can be a complex undertaking, with multiple variables muddying the waters and rendering straightforward comparisons misleading.
A solution being embraced by a growing number of accounting professionals is trend analysis on business planning and analytics platforms that integrate multiple data sources to gain an enhanced picture of all parts of the business.
“Adding more data sources into the analysis means accountants can identify trends more easily and spot areas of concern,” says Tibble. “When the finance team has more comprehensive data about performance, it becomes easier to measure trends specific to branches, sales teams or products.”
Business planning and analytics platforms also facilitate faster sharing of critical insights through dashboards and customised financial statements that can be updated every day.
That way, there’s a single source of truth across the organisation that’s always current – unlike Excel spreadsheets, where different versions of the same document can live on desktops, servers and hard drives.
Multiple data sources
A robust business planning and analytics platform can filter and store many types of data.
- Sales of products and services.
- Purchasing costs, cash flow and stock levels.
- Variations in supply-chain volumes.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) insights.
- Website analytics, including customer interactions.External industry data.
Giving the complete picture
“Once you’re capturing data from a range of sources, you’re getting the complete picture and can not only detect trends but make more informed predictions about the future,” says Tibble. “Cross-functional, statistical and financial analysis will uncover patterns and correlations that’ll result in more accurate forecasting and better business decisions.”
Just as important is the fact that business planning and analytics platforms allow accountants to present such findings to clients in visually appealing ways.
“Trends become instantly apparent when they’re communicated through trendlines, tables, bar charts or graphs,” says Tibble. “A board or executive team hasn’t got time to wade through reams of data, so having the tools to demonstrate a complex set of analytics quickly and clearly is invaluable.”
Find out more
To learn how Phocas’s business planning and analytics solution can transform your business, visit phocassoftware.com/ca