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Business Intelligence (BI) reporting: Understanding the story

ASL_3A good friend of mine once met an old Zambian man after a soccer match with the locals, during a trip through Africa. They started talking about the tour (which involved an overland truck and a bunch of students) and at one stage the man commended my friend’s experiences with the words: “You know what young man – a man without a story, is like a tree without leaves”.

In my experience, most business owners are dynamic, forward-looking individuals. It makes sense, because that is exactly what developing markets and economies demand from business owners in order to stay competitive and to be successful. It could therefore be expected that many business owners often don’t see much use for dwelling on historical figures and see it only as a statutory requirement or a means to calculate tax liability.

In my view, however, the words of the Zambian man are equally applicable to business and individuals, and perhaps as accountants we sometimes focus too much on the figures and too little on the stories hidden within them. Correctly interpreting historical figures can profoundly influence the way in which we head towards the future, and for this reason we have in recent years at ASL invested a great deal in terms of our business intelligence capabilities.

This investment revolves mainly around data visualisation software that aids us in analysing historical figures, with the aim of deciphering stories and trends hidden within financial information.

During the above process, interactive dashboards are designed around the specific value drivers, relevant to each individual client. Our visualisation arsenal includes tables, heat maps, highlight tables, geographic symbol- and filled maps, pie charts, bubble charts and scatter plots, amongst others.

Through combining these tools in tailored periodic- and interactive reports, we actively pursue the story behind the figures, with the aim of providing insights that can be applied in the future success of your business.

If you would like to talk to us about the potential of BI in your business, please contact,  Malan Botha (malan@asl.co.za), or your responsible director.