BI: Not just for IT pros anymore
A recent survey from tech concern Gart-ner of 1,500 chief information officers found
that even with tight technology budgets and
a troubled economy, business intelligence remains among the top spending priorities.
At its most basic level, business intelligence provides historical, current and pre-dictive views of business operations.
Common functions include report-
ing, online analytical processing, ana-
lytics, data mining, business perfor-
mance management, benchmarking,
According to high-profile tech consultants
like Randy Johnston, in a down economy the
ability to make decisions more quickly can be
the difference between reaching sales goals
and retaining clients, or not. “It is such a great
time for BI right now,” he said. “It lets you see
what’s working, what’s not, and what you
should do that you’re not. In this economy,
that is so important.”
Johnston claims that attendance at his own
BI seminars has increased “four-fold” over
the past few years, and that the most impor-
tant factor for BI’s wider adoption has been
seeing the increased revenue potential, both
internally and externally.
Understanding BI and showing clients how
they can make more money — in many cases
by getting “intelligence” reports from the ERP
and CRM systems they already have — can be
a boon for a CPA firm’s own business.
“Especially if you are a CPA firm, even going with low-end products, you can have an
exceptionally high value-add. Many do compliance work already; this
is a big ‘in’ for them, plus
it lets CPAs leverage their
in a big way,” said
Red Bank, N.J.-based Withum-Smith+Brown is
among a growing
number of firms
that recognize the
benefits from BI at the
firm and the client level.
Using BI as a value-add and client retention
tool started slowly, but is paying off.
“Now we do our compliance work and we
have additional speaking points with the clients, which strengthens the firm’s relationship,” said James Bourke, a CPA and CITP at
WSB. He pointed out that businesses are also
ripe for BI work because the accounting and
CRM systems they already have contain the
data they need to see how their businesses
can be improved, though it may still involve
consulting work from a CPA firm or VAR.
“There are a ton of integrated accounting
solutions out there, and you get something
that sits on top of that to pull out the data,
[and] not just report on it but interpret it and
make recommendations. That’s real value,”
Bellevue, Wash.-based Clark Nuber has
seen the advantages of having BI internally,
and realized it was not as cost-prohibitive as
some firms believe. “We have a couple of systems we use, mainly for our tax department
— whenever a new announcement comes
out, we can see what clients the law applies
to, that’s been really important for us,” said
Winn Richardson, senior manager of the
BY seth fineBerg
With lower costs and a user base more educated about what
business intelligence is and can do, Bi is becoming affordable
and understandable for both CPA firms and their clients.
Business intelligence is becoming easier – and more valuable
NETSUITE OFFERS CHANNEL
PROMOTION FOR ERP VARS
SAN MATEO, CALIF. — In a bid to draw in
more value-added resellers of its cloud-based accounting and business management software, NetSuite Inc. is offering
VARs a 100 percent margin on first-year
The NetSuite SP 100 Program also
offers 10 percent margins on renewals,
as well as the sales and technical training, sales cycle assistance, and marketing
support that it already offers its channel.
The company has about 200 VARs in
its channel, which was launched in 2002,
but it hopes to boost that number by
building a revenue model that’s more like
the one resellers of on-premise software
are used to. It is particularly interested in
drawing in Microsoft Dynamics resellers.
The promotion is expected to last at
least through April.
SAGE BRINGS NONPROFIT
CRM TO RESELLERS
AUSTIN, TEXAS — Sage North America
has begun accepting applications for its
authorized referral partner program and
authorized reseller and certified implementation partner program for Sage
Millennium, the company’s Web-based
constituent relationship management
software for large nonprofit organizations.
Sage Millennium was previously only
available for purchase directly.
The authorized referral partner program is designed to give interested business partners the ability to develop Sage
Millennium prospects and receive a referral fee on license revenue. The authorized
reseller and certified implementation
partner program is for business partners
wishing to take responsibility for the entire sales and implementation process.
For more on business intelligence tools and
vendors, see the expanded version of this
article on Accounting Today.com.
firm’s accounting services group.
With the BI tools Clark Nuber has, the firm
is “able to track administrative tax prep so we
can tell at the end of a return how effective
through-puts were. We can see after this season what we need to do,” said Richardson.
For Salina, Kan.-based Kennedy & Coe,
BI has allowed them more real-time sched-
uling and performance measurement data,
which, in turn, it has trained other CPA firms
to use. “CPA firms run reports every month
to see how they do. And what we are able
to do is look at the real time, when it really
makes a difference,” reported IT director
and principal Greg Davis. “We have shown
our employee scheduling to 20 or more CPA
firms. We also have eight offices and staff in
all those offices. We all need real-time ac-
cess to the data. The tools we have allow us
to do that.”
In many cases, though, particularly with
small to midsized businesses, paying for an
additional solution or upgrade is simply not
affordable. Instead, being shown how to use
what they already have is more valuable.
Miami-based reseller and technology
consultant Axis Global Partners has seen
businesses in its home state struggle over
the past year or so, and buying or upgrading
software has simply not been a top priority.
In this case, offering business intelligence
has helped generate new business for Axis.
“The big fear to overcome is costs. BI is the
one solution that has kept us in business,” said
principal Manny Buigas. “When we create a
data warehouse for a client, it’s fresh every
day. It’s not hours and hours of waiting for
reports to export to a spreadsheet.”
Buigas also noted that once they start
showing clients the reports, they “get it” and
are not as reluctant to spend for the services
to get the reports they need. BI in many cases
is also something businesses don’t have to
buy a license for, since they are utilizing their
existing ERP and CRM systems.
“Show [clients] a BI tool and they are asking questions you never thought of, making
connections from one system to another,”
said Buigas. “When we embedded BI into
clients’ CRM systems, they were blown away.
... Without BI, it would be much tougher to
differentiate ourselves, I think.” AT
BLYTHECO ADDS CUSTOMER AND
PARTNER STRATEGY DIRECTOR
LAGUNA HILLS, CALIF. — Blytheco has hired
Apryl Hanson as director of customer
and partner strategy. She had served as
director of partner programs and development and director of sales at Sage
Software, and was most recently director of sales and marketing with Attitude