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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New Business Intelligence Tools Can Help You Outperform Your Peers


An article in Forbes magazine recently noted that the collection and analysis of data is becoming a "key way for leading companies to outperform their peers." We think that nothing could be truer. The more refined and targeted your data is, the better you will be able to identify strengths and weakness that could give you a serious competitive advantage.

You know the problem with high volumes of data - or "Big Data" as it is known. In manufacturing, for instance, the Forbes article cited one study that reported more than 1.8 zettabytes (that's 10 to the power of 21 bytes) of information will be created and stored this year alone. The specific data you need has always been difficult to extract from the Big Data pool for problem solving or competitive purposes.

But new business intelligence tools that are connected to the cloud are beginning to allow CFOs and other executives to manage that data to very specific and targeted purposes, daily and in real time.

Armanino had the same problem as some of you - we had to labor pretty hard to compile a current set of key performance indicators; stuff like our firm's charge hours, realization, billing and collections, profitability by service line and so forth.

Our solution was to partner with a company called QlikView to create a BI product that works with our ProSystems fx Practice Management system. And let us tell you, this thing kills! It provides us with an interface that our partners use daily to review firmwide metrics or drill down to specific performance data on individual practices, offices and even staff. Nowadays, our partners can, from any location, quickly see where the firm, or their particular practice, stands. And so can you for your business because we now offer the solution that is working so well for us to our own clients in partnership with QlikView.

Our Business Intelligence solution can be deployed in weeks, not months, and users can learn to utilize the tools in just a few hours, notes Armanino Chief Operations Officer Matt Armanino. "The experience is 'app-like,'" says Matt, "so if you know how to use an iPhone or Google, you'll be right at home using this product to get your 'how are we doing' questions answered."

We know that CFOs are expected by other senior managers in their companies to have data at their fingertips and we get a lot of interest from CFOs who would really like a BI application that extracts relevant details from Big Data and that they could tap into by phone on their way to a meeting - perhaps in a town far from headquarters - and can get the information they need that day, at that meeting, from their mobile device.

We're not exactly tooting our own horn here. Instead, we're telling you about something that we know will benefit you in your quest to be more in command of your company's data and which will give you more time to concentrate on the strategic issues that affect your companies.

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