Ian Yates

Ian believes curiosity is key to driving improvement.  Frustrated by the complexity surrounding data analytics in the corporate organisations he led, Ian formed Barcanet to help finance leaders make simple data-driven decisions and improve their individual and business performance. 

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88% spreadsheets have errors

By Ian Yates, Managing Director at Barcanet

Companies large and small spend countless hours every month developing, amending and updating the spreadsheets that measure performance and drive strategic decision-making.

So it’s critical the data contained and output generated by these spreadsheets is timely, simple and above all, accurate.  But is it?

Although spreadsheets have proven themselves as useful productivity tools for many years, they are poorly suited for managing the disparate and sizeable data produced by the modern business.

Errors are common, even with experienced users - the more data sources, the more formulas, the ‘larger’ the spreadsheet, the greater the chance for small errors to be magnified.

We have all experienced ‘version numbering’ issues and outputs that don’t match as changes are made and ‘master’ spreadsheets not updated.

Exposing organisations to significant levels of risk.

According to experts, there are three primary error types;

  1. Mechanical error – inputting, typing, copy/paste errors which may appear small but can fundamentally impact the integrity of the entire model as the complexity of the spreadsheet grows
  2. Logic error – flawed calculations generated from inappropriate or incorrect formulas and algorithms
  3. Omission – one of the most common and most difficult to spot errors is where data is simply not incorporated in the first place

So what is the better way?

In recent years, a new type of business analytics software and service has surfaced. 

Platforms that readily digest huge amounts of data, across different sources, in multiple formats - centralising and ‘normalising’ data.

They contain powerful analytics tools, allowing users to configure reports relevant to their roles. Most extend to visualising the insight in simple dashboards. Some embed workflow processes and collaboration tools enabling users and decision makers to make quick, simple and effective data-driven decisions.

All without a single spreadsheet being produced.

These tools are available for every size of business. Whether you require enterprise-wide solutions driven by in-house analyst teams or bespoke functionality bringing insight to your operational KPIs, there is something available.

What are the key benefits of using these platforms and services over spreadsheets?

  1. Data integrity – single ‘truth’ of accurate data to make decisions from
  2. Breadth of data – increased data for more informed decisions
  3. Value - Powerful analytics for insights generating competitive advantage
  4. Speed – live insights accessible anytime, anywhere
  5. Efficiency – saves hours preparing immediately out-of-date spreadsheets
  6. Collaboration – enforce the power of teamwork
  7. Scalable – from bespoke requirements to enterprise-wide initiatives
  8. Simplicity – analytics in the hands of users – no need for teams of analysts
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3 Reasons Why Data Driven businesses Wins

By Ian Yates, Managing Director at Barcanet

We live in a modern, technological world where data, or more accurately insights from data, can drive competitive advantage.  From identifying opportunities for optimisation and efficiency to generating a greater understanding of customers and prospects, it should be every company's aim to use their data to influence their decisions and future strategies to gain the advantage in their competitive market.

What does it mean to be a data-driven business?

"There's a lot of talk about data-driven marketing and sales, etc., but not a lot about a company as a whole becoming data-driven," says Manish Sood, the founder and CEO of Reltio.

The importance of businesses building themselves around data cannot be underestimated. Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense, suggests that data-driven companies don’t just use data, but also understand that data should be accessible to all employees and at the center of the decision-making process in any business. 

"A data-driven company is an organisation where every person who can use data to make better decisions, has access to the data they need when they need it,” Orad says, “Being data-driven is not about seeing a few canned reports at the beginning of every day or week; it's about giving the business decision makers the power to explore data independently, even if they're working with big or disparate data sources."

Benefits of being a data-driven business:

The benefits of successfully utilising data are extensive, three key areas are:

  1. Easier decision making - at every level and in each department of the organisation. A lack of data makes it harder to make informed choices - from driving efficiencies to creating marketing strategies. Businesses need to collect and store data they can trust. The powerful combination of data and analytics gives businesses an edge, helping achieve their business goals.
  2. Better understanding of the market - companies are able to adapt according to what data is telling them by deriving useful insights. Through benchmarking your business, your customers, your suppliers or simply managing your KPIs using all available data, you can adjust and improve performance. Organisations should be driven and influenced by data in order to continue to develop, become more efficient and grow. 
  3. Efficient management - businesses use data to identify areas that can be streamlined; made more efficient and productive. For example, operational management tasks may be a strain on your costs and take up too much of your employee time. Automating these types of processes would positively benefit your business. Benchmarking highlights the need to refine certain areas and monitors the ongoing success of the initiative.
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5-steps to Faster, Better Decisions

By Ian Yates, Managing Director at Barcanet

FP&A Tags: 

Keeping your company at the forefront of its field means having the ability and confidence to make hard-fast decisions. Success depends heavily on making the right decisions and executing them with speed and efficiency, giving you a serious competitive advantage over the market.

EY conducted a survey that revealed 81% of senior executives indicated they needed to improve their decision making speed and get greater insight on their business. They also recognised that their team made too many decisions based on intuition, and wasted time working on mechanical tasks and unnecessary detail.

The process of remaking decisions wastes a considerable amount of time. There is an art to making good decisions the first time. 

Piyanka Jain (prior head of business analytics at Paypal North America), used a 5-step process when faced with making tough business decisions:

  1. Keep in mind the most important business question
  2. Create an analysis plan with hypotheses
  3. Collect data and identify insights
  4. Discuss and gather input from your team
  5. Set up a plan based on your decision and execute

Some decisions are more complicated or important than others and need to be given greater thought.  Whatever the decision being made, the decision makers should be able to assess the past, current, and future trends with ease and come to a timely decision.

The most reliable way of doing this is to gather and consult data before making any proposals. Data can provide big insights that answer whatever questions are being asked -; ‘Are we engaging with customers?’; ‘How can we reduce business costs?’, ‘What can we do to improve customer satisfaction?’. 

Advanced analytic systems are extremely effective in supporting data-driven decision making. By collecting and storing data, colleagues from every level of an organisation can view reports and easily access facts, statistics and insights upon which to base their decisions. These automated systems can also analyse the data for you, presenting it in the form of appealing visuals, so it is easy to read and identify trends and patterns.

Using the right application speeds up the entire process of decision-making, increasing the efficiency and productivity of your team, enabling better decisions and leading to a smooth execution of the plan. 

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4 reasons businesses need focus on operational analytics

By Ian Yates,  Managing Director at Barcanet

Businesses have long recognised the importance of using data analytics to improve the customer experience. Analysing market trends and consumer activity, businesses adapt, innovate and optimise their products and services to keep customers happy and increase profits. The focus on customer-orientated analytics has, however, resulted in businesses failing to harness the power of their data to optimise their operational processes and significantly improve margins – although this is changing.

In a recently published whitepaper, from Capgemini Consulting, 70% of the companies included in the survey now put more emphasis on operations than consumer-focused processes when carrying out analytics. 

Why?

Most businesses are forecasting increased costs and margin squeeze, and with 90% CFOs having cost reduction as a key objective in 2017, operational analytics can drive the initiatives required to achieve these objectives.

Through identifying ways to significantly optimise operations, data analytics will predictably raise profits. The research outlined in the Capgemini whitepaper shows that operational improvement can increase profits of up to $117 billion globally, compared to customer analytics which ‘only’ creates $38 billion

Reduced downtime, improved productivity, better capacity utilisation, more accurate forecasting, higher flexibility, streamline production processes, and improved efficiency - ultimately, your business will see significantly increased profits by using data analytics to help make the important decisions about your day-to-day operations.

Whilst some businesses prefer to utilise expansive/expensive high-end consultancy firms, every business can achieve the same results for less expense. New, self-service data analytics technology is faster, cheaper and, most importantly, allows the business to make effective decisions at the most valuable decision-making point – in the hands of the employees.

Implementing a decision-making process, based on the insights provided by operational data analytics, is key to achieving the business goals and employees to achieve their individual objectives. By obtaining a single view of operations data, and sharing the relevant insights with employees, it is much easier to make informed, effective decisions that will improve company performance and operational efficiency. 

In summary, there are 4 key reasons why companies of every shape and size should put a greater focus on operational analytics:

  1. Increased profits - by identifying areas where money can be saved in the basic operations of your company, processes can be streamlined, optimised and efficiency increased.
  2. Competitive advantage - whilst your competitors may be focusing on customer-related analytics, efficiencies and reduced costs generate increased margins and cash to reinvest, making it a ‘game-changer’.
  3. Improved decision making - simpler, more effective decision-making from factual data, increases the speed of change and drives a more agile business.
  4. Improved employee engagement - sharing insights and empowering employees to make a data-driven decision, stimulates collaboration and increases employee engagement across the organisation.

Harnessing the power of its data has a multitude of benefits for every business, especially when used to fuel operational standards and processes. Employees will be empowered to make better decisions, engaged in improving the delivery and production of products and services and will enable your business to compete in the ever-changing economic market.

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Addressing the 5 Key Issues to Optimise Decision Making

By Ian Yates, Managing Director at Barcanet

FP&A Tags: 

An undisputed fact: data is the key to unlocking the potential of your business. It contains the insights to drive growth, generate efficiency and put you ahead of the competition. It is increasingly evident that using data to influence decision making in every aspect of your company will result in greater success. 

However, many businesses, both large and small, are intimidated by data. The huge volumes of data they produce and its sheer complexity are leading issues as to why companies struggle to adopt a data-driven approach; businesses lack the capability to gather and interpret all this data themselves without major investment.

It is exceedingly difficult to manually gather large amounts of data from disparate sources and turn it into meaningful insights. Recent research shows most companies gather data from more than at least 6 separate sources, with 23% of companies using 20 or more sources. Traditional spreadsheets just can’t cope with this complexity (88% spreadsheets contain at least 1 error).

There is also the added expense of hiring teams of data analysts and the frustrations when analysis and reports can’t be produced, as these analysts are working on ‘important projects’.

In a recent BARC study, five key areas were flagged as urgent issues to be addressed within companies wanting to optimise their data-driven decision making:

  • Improving data quality
  • Lowering the cost of access to information
  • Presenting data in easy-to-read formats
  • Making information easier to access
  • Increasing the speed at which information is readily available 

This is where data analytics platforms and services come in. 

New self-service platforms give you and your employees the ability to gather, analyse and visualise data in minutes. Anyone can access specific sets of data and create reports, summaries of which are presented in simple, but informative, graphs and charts. This makes it easy for anybody within the company to identify trends or patterns, and use this information to inform everyday decisions, as well as the larger impacting ones.

It empowers decision makers, enabling them to make more informed business decisions more efficiently. This directly results in better products or service, real-time evaluation of performance and drives efficiency and process improvement. 

Data analytics gives businesses independence and control over their data.

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Author's Articles

September 22, 2017

We live in a modern, technological world where data, or more accurately insights from data, can drive competitive advantage. From identifying opportunities for optimisation and efficiency to generating a greater understanding of customers and prospects, it should be every company's aim to use their data to influence their decisions and future strategies to gain the advantage in their competitive market.

September 22, 2017
FP&A Tags:

Keeping your company at the forefront of its field means having the ability and confidence to make hard-fast decisions. Success depends heavily on making the right decisions and executing them with speed and efficiency, giving you a serious competitive advantage over the market. EY conducted a survey that revealed 81% of senior executives indicated they needed to improve their decision making speed and get greater insight on their business.

September 22, 2017

Businesses have long recognised the importance of using data analytics to improve the customer experience. The focus on customer-orientated analytics has, however, resulted in businesses failing to harness the power of their data to optimise their operational processes and significantly improve margins – although this is changing.

September 22, 2017
FP&A Tags:

An undisputed fact: data is the key to unlocking the potential of your business. It contains the insights to drive growth, generate efficiency and put you ahead of the competition. It is increasingly evident that using data to influence decision making in every aspect of your company will result in greater success. However, many businesses, both large and small, are intimidated by data.

Pages