Date posted: 02/09/2019 5 min read

The CA-built app that improves Power BI (and more)

Cameron Lynch CA built his own Etani Business Platform to plug the gaps in business analytics for smaller accounting firms.

In Brief

  • Cameron Lynch CA found Power BI was more geared to big corporates than smaller operations.
  • He saw that he could build his own accounting app to plug into Power BI and bridge the gaps.
  • His Etani Business Platform can now integrate data sources from Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks and more.

Story Jessica Sier
Illustration Neil Webb

Etani Business Platform was born of “Excel hell”, says the company’s founder and CEO Cameron Lynch CA. The impetus came when Lynch and his team were wrangling a behemoth of a spreadsheet. “There were tabs everywhere and lots of people were touching it every day,” he says. “When it came to reporting, I just didn’t trust the numbers. We had a massive data integrity problem.”

Cameron Lynch CA.Cameron Lynch CA

Lynch began looking for tools to help his team and discovered Microsoft’s Power BI, a business analytics service offering interactive visualisations and an interface simple enough for users to create their own reports and dashboards.

While Power BI was useful, Lynch found it was largely geared towards the big end of town, which had professional data scientists onsite. “Corporates had a massive advantage with tools like that,” he says. “They were using data to make smarter decisions and small businesses couldn’t get a look-in – and that was the end of the market I wanted to help.”

“Corporates were using data to make smarter decisions and small businesses couldn’t get a look-in – and that was the end of the market. I wanted to help.”
Cameron Lynch CA

Lynch started doing courses in HTML, JavaScript and CSS and soon realised he could build the missing accounting infrastructure that could plug into Power BI and specifically help small accounting firms and individuals.

“I wanted to deliver custom dashboards to clients on their mobile phones and offer them templates and tutorials to get started,” he explains, and that’s how Etani Business Platform came about in 2015.

With insight into sales, budgeting and cash flow, coupled with the capacity to reconcile various scenarios at speed, accountants could free up their time and concentrate on advising. That said, Lynch soon realised that accountants are a data-hungry lot.

“We get hundreds of emails asking when we’re going to integrate with this or that data source,” he says, ticking off the likes of Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks Online, WorkflowMax, SimPro and Dear Systems. “We had to set up a voting list on our website; the most popular is the one we’ll begin integrating next.”

It’s those sort of engaged accountants, says Lynch, who will outstrip their competition. The efficiency gains from clever software will sort the survivors from those who are blind to what their customers’ behaviour is telling them.

“Using your own data and insights, you can build reports that can’t be replicated,” he says. “Live data has broken open the repetition and the guesswork. Accountants can free up their time and focus on advisory work. And the firms that do will have a massive point of difference.”

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