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The data stored in financial systems and other platforms is a potential goldmine. Yet, many medium-sized businesses are not taking full advantage of this valuable asset. Today’s robust and intuitive business intelligence (BI) tools can change that, enabling business leaders to uncover insights and trends in their data that can open many business opportunities. This, in turn, helps them make business decisions based on better information.

Over the past few years, tools that put business insights into users’ hands have become easier to use, enabling them to easily generate their reports without being data science gurus or technical whizzes. Since no coding is required, executives can gain insights as and when they need them.

 Visualising data

The real strength of these tools is that they allow your decision-makers to see graphical representations of their data, usually in reports or dashboards. These visualisations make it easier for people to see trends and understand the implications of the numbers than looking at rows of figures.

Today’s BI tools allow users to easily generate reports and dashboards based on pre-built, fully customisable data models and analytics. With just a few clicks, you can effortlessly transform your profit and loss ledger into a dashboard featuring a series of tables, charts and standout figures. Since the data flows from your financial software, it’s always up to date.

By visualising trends in your financial data, you can identify issues before they turn into obstacles and spot opportunities before the chance to gain a competitive edge disappears. The types of dashboards and reports used across businesses of different sizes and in diverse sectors vary.

Here are some examples of the typical basic dashboards a medium-sized business could find useful:

  1. Business snapshot

This is perhaps one of the most basic but valuable dashboards – a visual summary of how your business generates sales, manages expenses and creates profits. It shows whether your business has made or lost money in the period under review, which can also help determine trends for future business decisions.

  1. Sales trend analysis

You might see that your revenues are going up or down, but that’s not enough on its own to act. A sales trend analysis dashboard can track sales performance month-on-month or year-on-year and break down sales by region, salesperson and customer, or by quotes and estimates. This can help you decide where to invest or where to deploy sales resources to create optimal growth.

  1. Financial hygiene

Monitoring cash flow is an essential ingredient to the survival and success of any business. You could use dashboards to track inbound and outbound transactions, immediately see how much is sitting in your bank account, what payments are due to suppliers, service providers and the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

  1. Analysis of aged debtors

An analysis dashboard of aged debtors can provide an overview of who owes you cash, how much, and when you can expect to receive it from overdue customers.

Making the most of your data

BI enables you and your team to drive value from the increasing amounts of data that all businesses are generating today. The benefits range from basic efficiencies to gaining insights that enable you to seize a real competitive advantage. Today, the technology is so simple to use and easy to implement.

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