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Anvizent Expands UK Presence. Partners with Octopus Blue to Deliver Manufacturing Analytics

17 October 2017 – Anvizent, the Atlanta based purpose-built manufacturing analytics platform, announced today a strategic partnership with Octopus Blue, the UK’s leading business software consultancy. The partnership enables Octopus Blue to provide manufacturing companies with real-time analytics for faster and more effective decision making.

With this partnership, customers across the UK will be able to leverage Anvizent to gain comprehensive visibility and real-time control of their manufacturing operations.  Anvizent integrates ERP, Shop Floor, Financials, Legacy and other data into one platform to provide a single, unified view of the business. Business users can visualize, blend, merge, slice and dice data to get fasts answers to their day-to-day questions.

“Anvizent is a fully integrated end-to-end manufacturing analytics solution that was designed from the ground up to meet the specific needs of manufacturing companies,” said Raj Koneru CEO Anvizent. “Our patent pending solution comes with a fully automated data warehouse that enables true self-service analytics by eliminating the laborious and time-consuming process of manual data preparation.”

Anvizent delivers value from Day One. 50+ ERP integrations enable users to plug and play with their data without having IT spend time building reports and dashboards.  Users also have on-demand access to 100+ fully functional manufacturing specific dashboards across sales, customer service, procurement, inventory, production and other key functions. Using these dashboards, they can quickly understand the big picture and drill down to identify key trends, patterns, issues and root causes.

Moreover, Anvizent’s alert feature proactively notifies users on potential issues before they turn into problems. Users can also connect, share and collaborate instantly with key stakeholders through a built-in messenger on every dashboard.

This is closely aligned with Octopus Blue’s passion to help businesses become more productive.  By recommending the right business software for your organisation, integrating solutions to reduce the time taken to process data and reducing the risk of human error, Octopus Blue empower you to make your software work harder for you.

“We are excited to partner with Anvizent to provide manufacturing companies with a truly innovative analytics solution that will enable insights at unprecedented speed and ease,” said Andy Bailey, CEO, Octopus Blue. “The fact that Anvizent can be deployed overnight at the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) further strengthens Anvizent value proposition as the comprehensive analytics solution for manufacturing companies.”

About Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise its processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time-efficient and cost-effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will recommend, implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue.  The Business Software Experts.

For more information, visit http://www.octopusblueuk.com/ or email andy.bailey@octopusblueuk.com.

About Anvizent:

Anvizent is the Purpose-Built Manufacturing Analytics Solution. Anvizent integrates your entire data including ERP Data, CRM Data, Shop Floor Data and any other data into one platform. Anvizent is a fully integrated end-to-end solution that comes with 50+ ERP Integrations, Built-In Automated Data Warehouse and Self-Service Visualization with 100+ Pre-Built, Fully Functional Manufacturing Specific Dashboards.

Anvizent can be deployed overnight at the lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This ensures instant value and a faster Return on Investment (ROI) than any other solution in the market. For more information, please visit http://www.anvizent.com or email info@anvizent.com.

 

Make Business Decisions Like a Court of Law…. With Facts!

Next up in our series of blogs on Business Intelligence and Data Analytics, Christopher Sharp, Senior Partner Manager at Exact Online gives us an insight on making business decisions within an organisation.

There are two key types of decision making within an organisation; data driven decisions and good old gut feeling based decisions! In truth both have their merits, however using actual data prevents bias and being based on cold hard facts it is much more likely to be at least partly correct. The very evolved and sophisticated UK legal system ensures a jury does not use gut feeling when making the most important of decisions, so why should a business?

Data can be used to provide numerous insights! To provide and detect patterns in customers purchasing behavior, allowing you to plan marketing campaigns, identify new sales opportunities and potential develop or supply new products. Improve efficiencies by potentially highlighting any wastage and sharing key dashboards or reports across multiple departments.  Improve focus by tracking performance against KPI’s. Deciding what KPIs to focus on a measure is often the secret to data driven decisions. In the world of health and fitness many KPI’s are tracked, heart rate, steps, calories, speed, distance, weight etc. Knowing which one is most important and which one, when leveraged will provide the greatest gain is crucial. For example, if your focus is on sales, then leads, conversion rates, number of sales demos and average order value are all sensible KPI’s. Each industry will have their own KPI’s to focus on – a professional services firm might focus on billable utilisation of consultants and backlog whereas a wholesale company is more likely to focus on margin and inventory levels. As the old saying goes, “What gets measured gets improved”, so make sure to measure the best KPI’s.

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Historically it might take significant reporting time and cross department collaboration to pull together these insights therefore negating some of the potential benefits. However, now getting relevant data and a single version of the truth is more achievable than ever before. With a cloud based integrated solution connected with apps via API’s and an integrated flexible BI reporting tool – there is no excuse not to get access to the data you need when you need it!

Looking to the future of Business Intelligence I decided to ask some real experts on their views which they were kind enough to share:

Jason Wong, Senior Product Marketing manager from Exact comments on the future of BI; “The BI industry has been around a long time. The ability to analyze data is nothing new. The most likely strategic direction for BI suppliers is a movement towards offering higher valued BI services with greater investments in advancing a well-integrated data stack. Moving forward we are expecting a lot more machine learning, natural language query, AI and native phone and tablet based solutions”.

Hollie Dyson from Pan Intelligence remarks; “it will continue to expand throughout the markets and its users will drive the innovation of the software. Analytics will quickly become a feature of business intelligence, for businesses to build predictive models that will help drive future strategies. Business intelligence is no longer a tool used by large corporates, its usability and availability is changing, it is now accessible and affordable for small businesses, public sector and individuals.

Summary

Use data to make decisions

Chose the right KPI’s

It’s easy to get this data with the right cloud based solutions and it doesn’t cost the earth

The future of BI is exciting and will draw on many new advancements in technology

Twitter – @ChrisSharp1982

About Exact

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Exact builds business software for SMEs and their accountants. Our innovative technology is aimed at specific business needs, providing an overview of today and insights into the opportunities of tomorrow.

Exact inspires businesses to grow. Our 1,600 employees love, share and support our customers’ ambition. Like them, we aim high. Like them, we aspire to lead the way. That’s how we know it’s a bumpy road to success. And that’s why we build software to help smooth it out, enabling our customers from all over the world to grow.

Exact. Cloud business software.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

 

Zokit Powwow

This week Octopus Blue exhibited at the Zokit Powwow, the first exhibition hosted by the popular Zokit networking group in South Wales.

It was great to catch up with some old friends and meet lots of new business eager to make their businesses more productive by implementing the right software for their organisation.  We’re looking forward to speaking to you all soon!

Andy was very popular!  Not only filmed by F9 Films for comment on the event, he was also interviewed by Paul Rees at Accolade Academy for UK Health Radio.  You can listen to Andy Bailey’s interview here.  Andy’s interview starts around at 5:00.

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As usual, we did a draw for a bottle of Pasion Blue wine- it’s delicious!  Congratulations to Cath Twisleton who won the draw!

 

Data Warehousing: Database vs Data Warehousing

 

Next in our series of blogs on Business Intelligence and Data Analytics, Software Expert Tanya Rowe gives us a brief history about Data Warehousing, what it is, and why its important.

Originally a Data Warehouse was simply created to separate data from a company’s operational day-to-day database(s) which can then be queried to aid decision-making processes via reporting etc.

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The purpose of the OLAP Warehousing Cube (Online Analytical Processing Cube) was to store data in a multi-dimensional way that can quickly be retrieved from one or multiple databases.

OLAP cubes require someone to have experience with that particular cube to maintain it, unlike open SQL server data warehouses where maintenance can be done by most IT people trained on databases.

Both use ETL (Extract, Transform and Load), the process used for data transformation preparing data for storage and analysis in a data warehouse.

Both are powerful, flexible, scalable and efficient to an extent.

Both are also expensive options in comparison to the current Cloud solutions.

Current Changes

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Today, data volumes and complexities of organisations are ever increasing requiring the need for large scale data warehouses which generally are now implemented either to replace or complement existing solutions.

We have now learnt that getting a data warehouse up and running easily and its ease of use, is critical in supporting access to data insights. These solutions however should not lead to significant data inconsistencies (which can occur within the ETL process) or require significant resources to manage. Modern data platforms now must support traditional (structured) and non-relational (semi-structured), forms of data. They should allow users to use tools and skills based on SQL, being the dominate query language in enterprise environments.  Modern environments should also affordably meet the on-demand business needs for compute and storage.

Nowadays more and more environments are being implemented solely to enable analytic dashboard solutions.

Cloud Warehousing has taken most of the above into account.

Organisations nowadays want to minimise their focus on in house IT infrastructure and focus more on their business

Benefits:

  • Companies without on-premise infrastructure – to support and maintain a data warehouse
  • Rapid Deployment of Large Data Warehouses
  • Data access is provided to users and administrators as ‘Self-Service’ to allow them to manipulate information to their requirements (especially within Analytics)
  • Increased scalability and lower overheads for Big Data Analytics

 

Future Changes to Come

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Often very large-scale data via ETL can take a long time to come through to the Data Warehouse.

With ‘Big Data’ getting ‘bigger’ and real-time analytics becoming a need for all organisations, the latest data needs to be accessible at all times.

ETL exists simply because the traditional systems could not handle both OLTP (On-line Transaction Processing) and OLAP in one system and provide good performance for both.

The days of extraction, transformation and loading data from operational systems may soon be over meaning:

  • No complex maintenance
  • Cheaper solutions to the end users.
  • Reduced risk of anomalies during the ETL process
  • Quicker solution turnaround
  • Faster queries on very large data

Two technology drivers of this trend are performance improvements arising from affordable Flash storage, along with in-memory database technology.

Some of the newer Business Intelligence/Analytics companies have already adopted this trend ahead of the game whilst keeping in line with the cloud benefits and organisation requirements.

To find out more about how Business Intelligence,  Data Analytics, and which software is right for you contact Octopus Blue to see how we can help you.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

Trade Shows – Make Your Stand A Success

With five trade shows coming up in the next six weeks or so, I have my work cut out making sure every little detail is ready for each one. With so much to remember, I have put together a list of things you can do in the run up to, and when attending the shows. If you are going to a trade show or helping to arrange for members of staff to go, don’t forget to…

…pick you stand carefully. Location, location, location…good stands go fast so pick your spot as early as you can!

be prepared. Don’t get bogged down with small details the week before the show, get it done in advance so you can make the most of the experience.

have a checklist! Keep a record of where you are up to with each event. Crugo is fantastic for managing tasks and to do lists.

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make sure that it is the right target audience for your business. If you can qualify the type of businesses you would like to reach then you can plan your presence at events much more effectively.

remember I.D. badges, vehicle passes etc for staff.

get your signage ready and easy to erect. Take a small toolbox with you, in case things don’t go to plan.

remember the nitty-gritty bits. Pack extension cables, scissors, tape, pens…

have boxes ready to carry everything in! This will make this much easier when unloading from car to stand. And maybe a sack truck.

have organiser contact details close to hand. Just in case you need to contact them en route, or on the day.

know where you are going. Check the location of the show, parking, public transport links, etc.

order merchandise in plenty of time. A memorable freebie can be a great way of helping people remember who you are!

arrange how you are going to capture leads. If you need to arrange for a scanner, make sure you have organised this in advance to save a last-minute panic on the day. FullContact and CamCard are both great for scanning, syncing and managing your business cards.

have 2-3 people on your stand. Two people on the stand, the other person can be walking around, getting to know neighbours and attending any relevant seminars.

ensure power, lighting and Wi-Fi are available.  Don’t assume these will automatically be offered.

make your stand inviting. Keep the stand well lit, be hospitable and make it a place where people want to come and find out more. Make sure there is no clutter, have a safe area for personal belongings.

have a briefing session. Give each person an area of responsibility. An organised stand can be fun to work on!

get your business cards up to date with the right contact details. business cards are a good way of making a great first impression.

promote the event! Give visitors a reason to want to come and see you. Use social media, emails, pre-expo events to share which events you will be at, always include your stand numbers, times etc. Take a look at Buffer for a simple and easy way to schedule posts, track the performance of your content, and manage all your accounts in one place

don’t pounce on visitors! Engage eye-contact and smile, if returned, that is your chance to open the conversation with a simple question ‘Have you travelled far today?’

talk AND listen! Don’t be afraid to talk to everyone, even when you are queuing for a coffee. You never know what can come out of striking up a simple two-minute conversation. And ask questions!

…wear comfortable shoes! This was the most painful mistake I made for Accountex 17…never again.

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…take some time to visit other exhibitors. You can learn from other stands, see how they are marketing their products and services.

give it your all. You will be putting a lot of time, effort and money into each trade show so make it worth it. Monitor what you get from each one and if it doesn’t add up, consider a different show.

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And finally. … follow-up! The show is over but the hard work is NOT. Follow up, remind them who you are and how you can help them. don’t be afraid to reach out too quickly!

If you want to find out more, get in touch and we will be happy to help. Or come and see us at one of the following:

  • 5th October – Zokit Business Powwow Expo at the All Nations Centre in Cardiff
  • 24th October – Business, Finance and Banking Careers Fair at the Cardiff Business School. This event targets all students looking for employment in this sector.
  • 1st & 2nd November – Accounting Live in the SEC, Glasgow. Andy will be speaking about ‘Accounting Software – How Do I Choose the Best Solution for My Practice and My Clients?’ Last time Andy did this talk there was standing room early so get there early to get a seat!
  • 2nd November – Introbiz Expo in the Motorpoint Arena. We will also be joined by Holly from Panintelligence
  • 16th & 17th November – The Business Show in the London Olympia where Andy will also be speaking.

You can be sure that Octopus Blue will be there to guide you to the best software solutions for your business.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

The Business Benefits of Integrated Software and Technology

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Like the ocean, the business landscape ebbs and flows continuously. Compliance changes from government, competitors adapting and growing, and technology advances bringing new ways of doing things. Not to mention the ever-increasing demands of your customers. What benefits can you reap from a well thought out, well-planned level of technology for your organisation?

Click here to read more and view the video

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

 

Why Bundling Cash Flow and BI Services Will Make Your Firm More Profitable

With the rise of cloud accounting, business intelligence (BI) is becoming ever more accessible to business owners and accountants alike. As a result of the advent of BI, the role of accountants is changing dramatically. They are increasingly present in the boardroom as key contributors to the strategic decision-making processes, no longer looking on from the sidelines.

How can accountants take advantage of this trend? One way is by adopting value pricing and bundling BI and cash flow forecasting services.

Want to generate more predictable revenue? Build more trust and loyalty with your clients? Prove your worth beyond number-crunching? Read on to find out how you can turn industry change into opportunity.

Why is business intelligence now more important than ever?

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According to Xero, “Business intelligence (BI) is the analysis and use of data for better decision making.” It involves taking large volumes of raw data and interpreting it, turning it into a source of competitive advantage.

Many accountants still shy away from this area in favour of sticking to what they know – tax and the production of accounts. Often this is due to accountants’ fear that they lack the experience necessary to deliver business intelligence and that clients wouldn’t see the value in paying ‘extra’ for this service. Quite the contrary.

Accountants can provide even more value by using their unique skillset to consider and report on the business as a whole, rather than focusing on producing accounts that can quickly go out of date.

Where accountants can prove indispensible is in the analysis of the data provided by business intelligence tools. Their natural knack of interpreting figures and extracting KPIs and insights is of paramount importance to any business intelligence strategy.

This is all wrapped up in the need for accountants to turn what they have always done but never charged for – providing business advice – and turn it into a billable service. Clients need advisors to think commercially, which is something most accountants already do.

There is a growing need for accountants to adapt their traditional business models, and focus on demonstrating to clients their commercial acumen in addition to their numerical skills. Accountants have a central role to play in providing the business intelligence to aid in commercial decision making and evaluating the financial implications of future business strategies.

Not only is providing this service an excellent client retention tool, but it’s now so much easier to provide business intelligence these days than ever before. Cloud accounting software packages and their associated add ons can help you turn raw data into actionable business intelligence.

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According to a CIMA Report – Unlocking Business Intelligence, business intelligence can enable management accountants “to provide a wider range of information in more accessible formats. In addition to reporting and monitoring, they could provide more forward-looking analysis.”

Far too many businesses make decisions without seeing the full picture. The full picture must include a view of the business’s future cash. Simply relying on a profit and loss report, or even worse – assuming what happened last year will happen this year – can hide all manner of problems. After all, a business can seem profitable at the P&L level, but the day to day cash flow forecast might tell a completely different story.

A cash flow forecast should be a core component of a suite of business intelligence reports provided on a quarterly or monthly basis. By building cash flow into your client offering, you will help your clients understand:

  • Whether they can afford to hire more staff
  • Whether they need to source funding to bridge a cash gap
  • How upcoming VAT and other tax payments will affect their cash position
  • See the impact of late payers and improve credit control
  • Scenario planning for different possible futures
  • Trim operating expenses to increase gross profit

An easy way to begin offering a cash flow service is to incorporate a cash flow forecasting add-on or app to your cloud accounting software. Float integrates with Xero, QuickBooks Online and FreeAgent and provides easy to use cash flow forecasting software that automatically updates each day with your actuals.

How can accountants capitalise on this trend?

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Savvy accountancy firms have already moved into the so-called ‘advisory’ arena, beyond pure compliance. But not every firm has truly embraced the ideology of providing solid business intelligence in addition to the necessary compliance.

A way to move in the right direction is to ‘bundle’ your services. Bundling makes life a lot easier for your clients and for your firm. It means grouping services together into packages, which are then billed at a fixed monthly price. This lets your clients choose a package that best fits their business. It also means they don’t have to pick and choose services from a long list, without really knowing what they need.

Bundling starts with a major shift in the way you view and price your services. It means moving towards value pricing. For a great explanation of value pricing, read more here.

Put simply, value pricing provides predictable revenue from each new client, it can increase loyalty, it provides more transparency, and it builds greater trust between client and accountant.

How to bundle BI and cash flow into tiers of value pricing?

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The best place to start is offering increased value for higher-priced packages. This enables you to upsell your existing clients and provides clear benefits for paying a bit more. You could structure it as ‘good, better, best’, or ‘minimum, typical, and open ended’.

However you choose to structure it, business intelligence and cash flow services should be in your mid or highest priced bundle to encourage that all important upsell. The ‘typical’ or ‘good’ package should include the compliance basics, such as end of year reports and VAT.

Figuring out what price points to use will require a good deal of thought, and it’s crucial to get this right. This article explains what to keep in mind when pricing your packages.

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This is a guest blog by Float cash flow forecasting, intuitive cash flow forecasting software for Xero, QuickBooks and FreeAgent users.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue.  The Business Intelligence Experts. 

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

 

September Newsletter

After an exhilarating, full speed start to the year, Andy enjoyed some time with his children over the summer; exploring the South Wales countryside and beaches, eating popcorn while watching Captain Underpants and learning about how things work at Techniquest.  Time away from the office is an opportunity to reflect – Andy captured his thoughts about how we should think more like a 5-year-old in this blog.

Of course, not everything stops for a summer vacation!  The Panintelligence partner day was a great opportunity to learn more about plans to make their excellent product and even better and hear expert talks on GDPR, cyber security, software partnerships and Tech UK. Anvizent have invited us, as premier partners, to join them at the IT Showcase in Manchester 19 September, training and product updates from Exact (plus a chance to see old colleagues) and new CRM, payroll and HR partnerships agreed (watch this space!).

Andy was also invited to the Accountex Advisory Board, along with the great and the good of the accountancy profession, to offer feedback on how make the exhibition even better next year.  All this plus chance to meet new partners and customers – who said summer was quiet time!

Oh and 4 new Octopus joined the team!  Welcome to Software Experts Tanya, John and Rob, and Business Development Expert Leigh. We had the chance this week to all get together for a team meeting and of course, a team photo!

Octopus Blue Team Photo 2017

Business Intelligence

“Big Data” has been a recurrent theme of business software for several years, but what use is big data without some way of understanding what it means?  Recently, focus has shifted from the collection of data to interpreting what that data means for your organisation.  With cloud software now the default for many companies, real time analysis of data is available to all of us. Business Intelligence (BI) enables leaders to make better informed decisions based on hard facts from multiple sources and Data Analytics (DA) allows great scrutiny of the information generated by your organisation.  Together they provide a complementary set of tools to allow your business to rise above the competition by taking the guess work out of decisions; allowing you to focus on what you do best.

John Walker has provided an informative overview of Why BI? This is the first of a series of blogs and white papers on BI and DA that you will see over the next few weeks.  You will see guest blogs from Float, 9 Spokes and others, plus shared exhibition stands with Anvizent and Panintelligence coming up (see below for more information).

Upcoming Events

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The next six seeks are going to be busy for us all. We have six exhibitions to attend, please come and say hello! We will be at the following:

  • 19th September – IT Showcase Manchester along with Anvizent Data Analytics
  • 5th October – Zokit Business Powwow Expo at the All Nations Centre in Cardiff
  • 24th October – Business, Finance and Banking Careers Fair at the Cardiff Business School. This event targets all students looking for employment in this sector.
  • 1st & 2nd November – Accounting Live in the SEC, Glasgow. Andy will be speaking about ‘Accounting Software – How Do I Choose the Best Solution for My Practice and My Clients?’ Last time Andy did this talk there was standing room early so get there early to get a seat!
  • 2nd November – Introbiz Expo in the Motorpoint Arena. We will also be joined by Holly from Panintelligence
  • 16th & 17th November – The Business Show in the London Olympia where Andy will also be speaking.

You can be sure that Octopus Blue will be there to guide you to the best software solutions for your business.

Guest Corner

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Septembers Guest is Murray Pullin, founder of Nomoshobo

I met Murray briefly at Accountex in May 2017 where I learnt a bit about what they do. Nomoshobo was set up to help accountants and small businesses solve some of the problems associated with digital transformation in the accounting profession.

When Andy first met Murray he was launching the beta version of Nomoshobo, and it’s great to see the first version live now.  Watch this space for a detailed review shortly.

Murray is also taking another look at the accounting profession to see how the digital landscape is shaping up for accountants. If you’re an accountant, please spare two minutes to complete his short questionnaire using the link. Results will be published later this year and all responses are anonymous.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

Octopus Blue.  The Business Intelligence Experts. 

Why BI?

Welcome to a new series of blogs that discuss BI (Business Intelligence), Data Analytics and Reporting.  We will discuss, why, what and how showing how it all hangs together.  We also have some guest blogs coming from some of the leading software vendors in this space, plus expert opinion and advice.

Today we start with Why BI?  Let’s start with a definition:

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyse an organisation’s raw data.  BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting, all of which we will look at over the series of blogs.  These software applications are often referred to as Business Intelligence Tools.

These tools further extend our definition to explain that Business Intelligence Tools are essentially data-driven Decision Support Systems (DSS) and with these tools, business people can start analysing the data themselves, rather than wait for IT to run complex reports.

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Here is the Why?

This information access helps users back up business decisions with hard numbers, rather than only gut feelings and anecdotes.

And how can I generalise and demonstrate this without delving into very specific business processes that in themselves are probably difficult to follow and understand.  Here we go:

When I was a lad and indeed into my early adult years trips out in the car were planned using good old paper maps and the companion type map books produced by the “AA” and “RAC” (other motoring organisations are available).  The companion books not only had actual road maps but also a grid showing the distances between cities so route planning was a case of pen, paper and whatever maps were available.  It was then the duty of one of the passengers to use the route plan to do the navigation leaving the driver to concentrate on the road.  So, in this instance the “Business” was the task of driving from A to B and the “Intelligence” was the route plan we had created.  The maps and distance charts were the data and our brains were the intelligence to produce the interface (the route card) giving the instructions and between these two we would arrive at our destination in a hopefully calm and unstressed condition.  That is unless the person in charge of the route plan got car sick and became debilitated or the handwriting could not be deciphered and then what happens if there is road diversion?

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Fast forward to 1993 when the US controlled Global Positioning System became active giving any one with a suitable device the opportunity to have their position on the earth’s surface accurately determined.  But no-one except the US government agencies and the military had a device.  The US based GPS system was first conceived in the mid 1960’s and the first satellite launched in 1978. From conception to production took 30 years!!!

I’m not sure if Tom Tom, a Dutch based business start-up making PDA’s was the first but in 2002 they released their first portable navigation device to make use of GPS data.  But, the device needed more than the location data.  It required maps, the same as we used before GPS. Maps were built into the device so we now have data from two sources which need to be synchronised to be able to calculate any route requested.  It also needed a display that could show the route and deep within the logic and ability to recalculate the route should a diversion occur and display that new route.

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Fast forward to 2017 and my navigation device has the same basic logic but I can select fastest or quickest or most economical routes.  I can preview and amend the route, find nearest museums, car parks, cinemas and many other amenities.  Load in my own destinations like supermarkets (guess who does the shopping in our house). I can display in 2D or 3D, have lane guidance to help me through complicated junctions, know my ETA and distance to go.  All great things to make the journey easier.  And my device is not prone to car sickness!

Let’s have a look at this product in terms of Business Intelligence.  In a Sat Nav system we have several components:

Feeds from Satellites, built in maps (which can be updated) and manual intervention (where to and the type of route, Quickest, Fastest etc.)  – Data

Built in logic and algorithms to make the calculations – Intelligence

A display that shows the results – Output

All combined to make the Business of driving more reliable.

Think how much time, effort and money have gone into providing those data feeds and maintaining their accuracy.

Think of the time, effort and cost of designing the algorithms and business logic within the device.

And all displayed on a user-friendly interface to make it easy to operate.

The accuracy of this BI system leaves very few decisions to be made by the driver but they are still decisions – obey the Sat Nav or not. This level of accuracy could be touching the world of Artificial Intelligence – why not just let the car get on with it? In all cases, actual Business Intelligence stops at the display and has to have human decision making to finalise the process. However, Satellite Navigation Systems are a good example of the components needed in Business Intelligence and we’ll go on to explore these and other aspects of Bi in later blogs.

Want to know more about BI, Data Analytics or business software in general?  Or do you have suggestions for future blogs?  Please comment or complete the contact form below.

Octopus Blue

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.

Small Changes, with Big Results

Summer is by far my favourite season and as much as I hate to say it, it is on its way out, meaning it is time to give my wardrobe a facelift to include plenty of winter woollies and layers.

Occasionally we can all use a revamp an overhaul, an upgrade or a little restoration. Whatever you like to call it, change is good, and it doesn’t necessarily mean doing things massively differently. Sometimes making one small change can alter the way you work, meaning you could be saving time AND money. And if we do it for ourselves, then why not do it for your business?

Here are a few points for you to think about if you are wondering how to help your business develop

Networking

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Perhaps one of the most important ways of helping your business grow is to Network, Network, Network…especially if, like us you are a new business. Reach out to local and national companies, join networking companies and attend as many events as you can. Many people find that online networking is better for them, not to mention reaching way more people. It is one thing that can be forgotten when you are so stuck in what you are doing but let’s not forget that it can facilitate you in finding partners, customers and new staff!

Marketing

Are you marketing to the right people? Consider whether your current and future customers are being properly informed about what exactly you do. Following on from Networking, try to build half an hour into your daily routine for online marketing with the help of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You will find this is well worth the time taken and will soon become part of your daily routine without you even realising.

Differentiate from others

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Make yourself known for being a bit different. Dare not to be the same as everyone else and make your business stand out from the competition. Make everything you do, memorable and credible. Look for a gap in the market and target it, by specialising in a niche market you can focus your expertise on benefitting your customers in the best way possible. Also, make yourself known as the expert in your field and don’t forget that once you have outlined and are able to demonstrate your expertise, be sure to incorporate it into all your communications, whichever method you use.

Create Partnerships

It’s hard being the ‘new kid on the block’, this is particularly true when starting out in a new business. Don’t make the mistake of partnering with just about everyone though, be picky, and choose partner brands with whom you believe in and whose values are similar to yours. Having key questions to ask each potential partner can be essential, such as ‘how do you see us working together?’. If you don’t think it is going anywhere, don’t waste time and move on. Keep in mind that when you partner with another brand, they become an extension of your business.

Start a newsletter

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Having only written one newsletter so far for Octopus Blue, this is an area I’m yet to explore in more depth. Our next one however, is out at the beginning of September, so watch this space.

Newsletters are one of the least expensive and most effective tools for drawing attention to a business. By sending out a quality and informative newsletter on a regular basis you can keep all your customers and many other sources updated about your business.

Email is best used for communicating with present customers and contacts. Build an in-house email list of subscribers who opt in using a good CRM system. We use Hubspot which allows us to track how many people read our articles (amongst many other features), helping us to know where we are doing well, and occasionally not so well!

Octopus Blue Can Help

So, how can we help you give your business a bit of a helping hand?

Octopus Blue help your business to optimise your processes and software, enabling you to operate in the most time efficient and cost effective way.

Octopus Blue are uniquely independent, whole of market, business software experts. Our experienced consultants will implement and configure your entire software stack, empowering you to laser focus on what you do best.

Octopus Blue. The Business Software Experts.