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Business Intelligence Webinar: Raising the IQ of Your Data

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Business Intelligence WebinarCFOs often have too little AND too much information at the same time. What they need is the data to make a great business decision fast. CFOs tell us they're not getting enough (or timely) information from their enterprise systems. Simultaneously, they're drowning in data from their customers or suppliers with even more information in the offing. Unfortunately, the tools that support great decision making have been lacking or inaccessible due to the cost of these tools and systems. This webinar offers actionable advice for finance and accounting professionals to feed key company decision makers the right diet of data to empower better decisions. More specifically, the content explores some of the current trends in information management and enabling technologies, how these are impacting the finance organization, discuss some examples of what companies are doing, and identify ideas you may be able to take back to your organization.

This Business Intelligence webinar video is from the Proformative webinar "Business Intelligence: Raising the IQ of Your Data" held on September 27, 2012. The webinar features a presentation from Tom Kelly, Managing Director, T-Edwards, Inc.


Business Intelligence Webinar


"John: Well, on to learning objectives. Today we're going to be talking about how you can better utilize data to make better decisions at your company. There's been an awful lot of discussion about big data, small data, access to data, online data, internal data, external data.

It's enough to choke on, and today we're hoping to help you get your arms around these data issues and how you turn data into useful information and get it into the hands of people in your organization that need that to make decisions. Maybe that's you, maybe that's the folks you're working with or supporting.

We're hoping to help make sense of some of this and give you some great ideas that you can leverage at your company today.

Helping us do this today, a frequent guest on the form of events, I'd like to welcome Tom Kelly who's the Managing Director of T-Edward, Inc. As the Managing Director of T-Edward, Inc., Tom serves as a strategic partner and CFO/CIO for several unique companies. Portfolio companies include Kardia Health Systems and OnPoint Medical Diagnostics, organizations that were created by commercializing a software IP from leading healthcare institutions. TriPrima, Inc. who offers computing infrastructure and the storage of the service delivered in the private cloud and a multitude of other companies.

His insights have been gleaned from years of working with clients, striving to build on-demand environments that leverage the cloud to ensure crisp and timely execution of a company's strategy.

Tom is a CPA with an MBA in finance and Tom, we welcome you this morning. Thank you so much for joining us.

Tom: Thanks, John. I appreciate it.

John: You bet.

Tom: I want to talk here about raising the IQ of your data. As John mentioned, there's data here, there's data there, there's data everywhere, accessible on just about anything.  You've got your smartphones, your tablets, your PC, your notebooks. I mean, it's almost as if we're bombarded with data. There's just so much of it. How do you glean through and how do you make sure you're looking at the right stuff?

Just a while back, for those of you who remember this, the Dot Com era, this is our friend the sock puppet from if you recall. It was incredible, right? I can remember their commercials on the radio where they had these two gentlemen talking and comment was "Oh man, bummer." "Yeah, your company turned a profit." "Yeah, that's horrible man."

In other words, it was kind of a, as our friend Mr. Greenspan would say, irrational exuberance. The other thing to point out is if you recall, Warren Buffett, back in 1999, 2000, the whole Dot Com deal, he was taking a lot of heat because he was suggesting that he doesn't want to invest in these companies. He perhaps doesn't understand them.

What he did understand is that companies are supposed to create value, they're supposed to generate money, and many of these organizations weren't and we had valuations in the stratosphere. Hindsight being 20-20, Mr. Buffet would say "I told you so."

I use this analogy for a reason and frankly, it's this: when we as an organization think about our data, think about running our organization, making sure people are making the right decisions off the information they're getting, really it comes down to the fundamentals of business.

So let's just strip out, for this moment, all the wonderful technology that's available, and for those of you who heard me speak before, I'm a big believer in the cloud. It's amazing the type of opportunities you have relative to the applications, those being focused on specific niches like filing a travel and expense report to cloud-based ERPs that can put your entire processes and organizations into the cloud.

Frankly, an organization needs to think about itself as to "What's your vision and mission?" Why have that plan?

That's a great question Einstein, but very simply, and many of you do this and you've done this, but you start with your strategic plan, you figure out your performance management, you do your forecasting and planning, you create your budget, your do your target setting and it's "What are we going to shoot for?"

All of this, if you will, needs to be kind of a process, a never ending process. It should continue. It should never be a, in my estimation, a beginning and end, if you will.

CFO Magazine points out that [first core cal] companies, they align strategy and tactics. What do I mean by that? An organization can have the goal of "We're going to grow revenues by 50%," but unless you get it down to the tactics, that being the folks who are really on the front lines for your organization making the day in and day out decisions, dealing with the customers, the vendors, it's going to be dead in the water.

You really have to think about how you're connecting that high level strategy down to the day to day account-abilities of, frankly, every individual in your organization.

When you do forecast, they have corrective actions, proactive actions. What I mean by that is you should probably be forecasting your business once a month. Some people have told me given the nature of the industry they're in, maybe they should be doing it every day or every week.

Suffice to say, I think a good practice is to do it once a month, get perspective on what's happening in your business, manage that portfolio, that income statement, if you will, right? We want to hit the top and the bottom line, but if any of you out there are able to be within plus or minus .5% of every single line item on your P&L, let's talk. I'd like to work for you, because that is a phenomenal capability.

The other thing to point out is being able to frequently report on measures, and I'll get into the technologies and we can talk about that, but if you do have a plan and you've linked this plan in strategy to the tactics, etc, again, I think you're going to be dead in the water if you can't provide a tool or a capability for the organization to access this
information and make it easy for them to access it, to make it intuitive in terms of what they're accessing.

All combined, what we're going to talk about here today is there's a fundamental component to this and there's the way to link this together, and then there's a way to have a tool that's going to allow you to deliver that message in a digestible form, if you will, for your accounts payable department or your sales force, whatever that might be.

We talked about aligning tactics with strategies, right? We all know "Let's target the opportunities," right? How do you accurately quantify and prioritize, let's say, revenue opportunities or anything, for that matter, in your organization? Then, as I had mentioned, it comes down to how do you motivate the organization? How do you motivate the people making the day to day decisions?

When you come up with that measurement system, if you will, or the metrics or the data, I think you want to make sure that it's going to drive the desired behavior, right? If you have competing metrics, let's say manufacturing has to do, lower the per unit cost and that's all they're focused on, so they're going to blow the doors off of production and you're going to have a boatload of inventory sitting in your warehouse and if the sales force isn't connected with the manufacturing group, therein you have problems.

You have to make sure that how you motivate the organization is consistent across the different disciplines within your organization. Obviously we're all finance people, so whatever it is you're going to do you want to make sure you justify the investment, the investment of time and effort of putting together something like this, a strategic plan down to a tactical plan and even as far as how you're going to carry that out, what tool you're going to use or tools are you going to make the investment in such that it gets a payback too?

I want to give you a little example of what I've done for many years. To give you an idea where this came from, what you're looking at is what I call "The Business Alignment Model." This is something I'm sure you've never thought of yourself. It's never been known to anybody in mankind. It's an incredible idea, right? No. It's not. It's very basic stuff.

I have the luxury of working with what's called the balanced scorecard and I think it's a great concept, but I worked at Pepsi for many years, and frankly, from my standpoint, how much Diet Orange Slice 6-pack cans you're selling in the state of Maine when the moon is full and the tide is high and the humidity's at 72%, I'd argue that that's a little bit too much information and who cares frankly.

Editor's Note: Take a look at more recorded webinars from Proformative: Corporate Finance Cloud Technology Webinar, Corporate Performance Management Webinar, Job Interview Skills Webinar, Successful Job Interviews Webinar and Alternatives To QuickBooks & Spreadsheets Webinar.

So throughout the years, what I've done is come up with this concept called a "Business Alignment Model" or BAM, for short, and the idea behind this thing is you just have a structure of what you're doing as an organization. Encompassed with this is what I've been talking about: your mission and vision, your strategy, your initiatives, and then your projects and your key tactics.

It's interesting, I've always been very proud of this. I thought it was obviously a little ego building, "Hey this is very unique and nobody could have thought of these." I give these comments to organizations I work with either as a full time employees or as part of Key Edward and somebody made the comment once, she said "Oh, I get it. This is kind of like a closet organizer" and I thought "Okay, well, suffice to say it, that might even be more apropos." It's just like a closet organizer.

What's the mission and vision? It's a little tongue in cheek. There's a little cartoon there and a bunch of pirates there and they're saying "Rob,pillage and drink rum. That's pretty much our mission statement in a nut shell." You need to know what that is, but then I think you need to build of that as an organization.

Once you kind of, and we know this, the mission and vision is established and you put your wording around it.

End partial: Business Intelligence Webinar


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