Tag Archives: BI

The importance of [not] being idle – review, sift and react

In the modern era we are bombarded by information, updates, messages, emails, notifications, alerts….the list goes on!

In both our personal and business lives, there is information overload and increasingly we are learning to sift, skim read, delegate or ignore the information presented to us. With Cascade for Sage 50 we provide relevant business intelligence to SMEs which stops the need to sift, create from scratch or even ignore your business information.

How do we make it relevant?

We understand business. We have worked in businesses and understand the day to day challenges, information requirements and the ability to make decisions quickly and reliably. Cascade.bi makes accessing your business information very easy, our quick, click through drill and analyse technology allows you to delve into the deepest areas of your business and find the answers.

Does sifting increase risk?

Sifting data can be dangerous, you can miss key business information, make poor decisions or fail to make critical decisions at all.

Do you feel under pressure to clear all your notifications?

It may be feeling the need to have a clear inbox, (or at least keep it to one page), address all notifications on your phone / tablet, you will find that you are constantly sifting and clearing all of this information. The danger is that we all sift or clear notifications but fail to delve into the detail. It is important not to be idle and just by clearing the notifications, does not mean that you have all the information you need to make reliable and accurate decisions.

We make it easy to sift information from Sage 50

Let’s look at the example of not monitoring closely your profit by customer, something which as a Finance Director and business owner I have always wanted to achieve. The challenge is always preparing this in a timely manner, and once prepared, then having the time available to react to it before it is out of date!

Sage 50 BI

Being able to instantly identify which customers contribute to your gross profit, and those that do not, has a huge benefit as this information guides you to making the right decisions, delivering change and action across your business. If this information was sifted and not reviewed in detail, you may end up selling to customers at a loss without knowing.

What happens if we look at everything?

Whilst writing this blog, I have been bombarded by notifications on all devices including the same emails being received, tweets to @Cascadebi and LinkedIn messages and updates, together with BBC news feeds to my watch and IPad! This massively impacts on our productivity as they either interrupt our thought processes, distract and disrupt our productivity.

So what’s the solution?

It all comes down to “The importance of not being idle” (yes its a take on the Oasis track from 2005). We all need to understand that whilst we have to handle a significant volume of data, it is important to sift quickly, identify the important and crucially respond to, take action on, and resolve issues as they arise.

Whilst we recognise that Cascade.bi for Sage 50 provides yet more information to our customers, the data is very focused, relevant, reliable, comparable and understandable. It is easy to sift and delve into the detail, adding value to SMEs and business owners. We even provide a free email each week, providing a summary of your financial position and key metrics.

We are so confident that our platform will provide you with the information that you need to help run your business, that we offer a free 14 day trial to road test your data.

Please share your experiences of how you have managed data overload in your business in a bid to remain focused and driven.

BI trends for SMEs 2017

In this blog I outline the key changes which I believe will help shape the future of Business Intelligence for SMEs in 2017.

  1. Live Sharing

The days of sending PDFs or Excel spreadsheets to key personnel are beginning to fade with changing expectations that data should be instantly available to everyone. Business is following the on demand trend we see in our personal lives.

  1. Empowering the team

Traditionally the reports mentioned above have been used by the business owner and directors. The business benefits of sharing this information constantly and empowering all staff are evident. Just look at John Timpson and the success he has seen through sharing and empowerment. Great article here. Information aids decision making abilities.

  1. Remote working

Needing to be working 9-5 in an office environment is fading, with employees demanding to work more flexibly, and the government encouraging this for parents. The evolution of the Cloud has been an enabler in this move and undoubtedly in 2017 this will continue to grow. Having the ability to access data whilst on the move or working remotely is key. Important and beginning to be expected by employees.

  1. Environmental policy

The ever need for monitoring environmental impact supports the notion of moving towards a dynamic, paper reduced, tech savvy business where information is shared digitally and monitored in near real-time. Cloud BI aligns perfectly with companies environmental policies.

  1. Instant messaging

Increased
use of instant messaging (IM) tools such as Slack and WhatsApp for sharing of information and to provide instant communication with colleagues. Emails will gradually reduce as the use of IM is far quicker and more efficient than traditional email. The use of IM tools is aligned with the desire for instant business intelligence and the combination of both will increase in 2017.

  1. Focus on core data

SMEs all have valuable data, be it from sales invoices, purchases, employee wage costs or credit control. A focus on getting the raw data correct will help improve the standard of both more traditional reporting styles (through paper and bespoke excel reports) and innovating BI tools. Improving the raw data will deliver increased effectiveness and value from all styles of reporting, both traditional and digital BI.

  1. Multiple data sources in one place – increased aggregation

The world we live in now both personally and in business is surrounded by data. We register on multiple websites and apps each year and they all tend to generate data – valuable data. We can now use apps like Facebook or LinkedIn to register on apps, however the trend in 2017 will be for data to be bought together allowing the user to draw instant comparisons across multiple data sources. By 2020 aggregation apps will be common place.

  1. Cloud based analytics used for both on-cloud and off-cloud

Analytics have been increasing their reach with cloud based software as it is technically far easier to obtain this data and analyse it. That said, SMEs use many non-cloud programs which may not offer built-in analytics. We believe that 2017 will see the start of technology to enhance these off-cloud programs and bring them closer to the benefits of the cloud, whilst retaining the ownership of the data on their own servers.

  1. Business advisors & consultants will increasing the use of BI in providing proactive advice

Accountants and consultants are utilising technology around the cloud to enhance both their own and their clients’ productivity. The increasing emergence of cloud accounts based software has undoubtedly opened up the opportunity for firms to provide pro-active advice and react to the changing market. This will continue to grow with more and more firms marketing these skills as one of their core services.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) for SMEs

AI will start to be talked about for BI in SMEs, although we are unlikely to see it being widely used until the end of this decade. We are already seeing the rise in AI, with Google acquiring Deep Mind in 2014 – already being used to perform tasks which needed significant human intervention.

There is a great article here on it is already impacting perhaps invisibly on SMEs. It will become more explicit and far less invisible.


Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee, no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, sign up at www.cascade.bi or contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882

Culture of using Business Intelligence in an SME

We are often told that Business Intelligence, Business Analytics or Management Information is something which large corporates “do”.

Historically, it has been the large corporates who have deployed large scale analytics tools to help them crunch masses of data. If you think of the systems which control Tesco’s Clubcard to ensure customers receive largely relevant offers and vouchers or to the systems which compare pricing across multiple supermarkets. These are all large scale number crunching machines, yet SMEs can benefit from similar data about their customers. SMEs already possess the valuable data in existing systems.

In the age of cloud based solutions and availability of data, there is still a trend to be largely shy about sharing data to employees in an SME. Yes, the data is valuable, however there are different ways of sharing information with staff without providing them with everything.

Software can generally be security protected (Cascade.bi is no exception), so that each member of staff can receive dashboards and information which are relevant to their job role. Much as business owners and directors need information to make decisions, so do the managers in an organisation.

Imagine the scenario where the sales director is fully informed on customer spend, profitability, performance against previous months, years etc, however the sales manager was only given limited information via an Excel spreadsheet each month or week. This lack of dynamic content will undoubtedly impede their ability to make decisions and perform at their best.

Who should lead BI?

We believe that BI should be led by the senior personnel/owners within an SME. Having a culture of making decisions based upon factual information, showing the importance of data will filter down throughout the organisation.

Who should use BI?

Business owners and Managers should use BI to make rapid and important commercial decisions on a daily basis.

Who should respond to BI?

Managers should use BI to filter tasks to employees, empowering them to drive change and improve performance. The whole organisation will respond positively knowing that all of the team are working towards performance which is being tracked and monitored at a senior level and crucially is measurable.

In summary:

BI is not just an activity for business owners. It is a tool by which to make decisions, empower managers and be embraced. It should not be seen as a separate function but an integrated part of the business.


Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee, no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882

Business Intelligence for SMEs…..are you an intelligent SME?

Data is all around us and we often feel swamped by how much there is to understand, digest, and analyse both personally and in business. We are constantly bombarded by updates from mobile apps, emails, and texts, which can put us off wanting to analyse and review data on an ongoing basis.

www.cascade.bi
Screenshot from Cascade.bi platform

We have data overload & our mental capacity to accommodate and retain all of this information is restricted. I am going to set out below why I believe timely information and analysis is critical in the success or failure of business performance.


All too often I read in the press that a business has failed by not understanding its current financial position and not being aware of the current trading performance or possessing the ability to adapt to pivot to a changing environment, until it is too late.

An agile business should be able to use its resources (often people) in the most productive and profitable ways to drive business success. This mindset will allow the business to adapt. However, in order to change you need information.

Information allows us to be informed. Having the information available to make such decisions can be critical and the difference between a profit and success or loss and failure.

Business analytics and intelligence is just one area which needs to be covered sufficiently in every business, and I mean every business as it enables reliable decision making. If you are not able to retain in your mind all of the critical information such as knowing your most profitable product, region, sales performance statistics, cash balances, money owed and money due and in addition, be able to identify trends, then I believe you need to have a system in place which allows you to achieve this.

Having a good handle on your own BI is only a start, you need to understand and monitor lots of information in business, including competitors, market conditions (spotting threats and opportunities), the economy (both macro and micro), political and regulatory impacts and changing technology, to name just a few.

Too often getting in depth analysis of your sales, product, customer, supplier and cash performance is deemed as too costly and troublesome. This may be a task which is performed on a monthly basis and most likely more time is spent collating the data (in excel) than analysing and reacting. Does this sound familiar?

My top 5 tips to getting the most out of your BI:

  • Review the time taken to prepare existing weekly/monthly reports.
  • Estimate the % of effort for: Data collation Vs Time spent analysing e.g. 80/20.
  • Plan which data you would like to see and understand. Write down your biggest challenge which you would like to prove through your data (send it to me if you would like).
  • Prepare your data with analysis in mind e.g. tagging customers and products with their segment/category/location/sales manager.
  • Break the data fatigue cycle – move to a constant review, rather than periodic cycle. Become more agile.

Ultimately, I believe Business performance should be a continual process and adapting constantly, not seen as a “review” process. Challenge this norm, explore how Cascade.bi can help you improve your business performance.

In summary:

BI for SMEs used to be an expensive task which only larger companies could afford. With modern cloud based technology, the cost of distributing and analysing this data can be as little as the price of a mobile phone contract each month…….pause……who runs their business without a mobile phone?


Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee , no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882

Culture of using Business Intelligence in an SME

We are often told that Business Intelligence, Business Analytics or Management Information is something which large corporates “do”.

Historically, it has been the large corporates who have deployed large scale analytics tools to help them crunch masses of data. If you think of the systems which control Tesco’s Clubcard to ensure customers receive largely relevant offers and vouchers or to the systems which compare pricing across multiple supermarkets. These are all large scale number crunching machines, yet SMEs can benefit from similar data about their customers. SMEs already possess the valuable data in existing systems.

In the age of cloud based solutions and availability of data, there is still a trend to be largely shy about sharing data to employees in an SME. Yes, the data is valuable, however there are different ways of sharing information with staff without providing them with everything.

Software can generally be security protected (Cascade.bi is no exception), so that each member of staff can receive dashboards and information which are relevant to their job role. Much as business owners and directors need information to make decisions, so do the managers in an organisation.

Imagine the scenario where the sales director is fully informed on customer spend, profitability, performance against previous months, years etc, however the sales manager was only given limited information via an Excel spreadsheet each month or week. This lack of dynamic content will undoubtedly impede their ability to make decisions and perform at their best.

Who should lead BI?

We believe that BI should be led by the senior personnel/owners within an SME. Having a culture of making decisions based upon factual information, showing the importance of data will filter down throughout the organisation.

Who should use BI?

Business owners and Managers should use BI to make rapid and important commercial decisions on a daily basis.

Who should respond to BI?

Managers should use BI to filter tasks to employees, empowering them to drive change and improve performance. The whole organisation will respond positively knowing that all of the team are working towards performance which is being tracked and monitored at a senior level and crucially is measurable.

In summary:

BI is not just an activity for business owners. It is a tool by which to make decisions, empower managers and be embraced. It should not be seen as a separate function but an integrated part of the business.


Contact us for a free no obligation trial:

Cascade.bi packages start from just £45 month, no set up fee, no installation cost or training required. For a free 14 day trial, contact us on: info@cascade.bi or call 03330 112882