Different Data Models for Different Insights

Technology has transformed the way businesses function, and this all boils down to one thing: data. Data has opened the door for businesses to analyse their inner-workings, and make more informed, confident decisions backed up statistics. However, when it comes to the way businesses gather and process their data, there are a variety of revenues for this information and one destination – your company’s systems. So how exactly is this data compiled and broken down? This is where data modelling comes into the equation.

Data models are a necessary part of defining the data a business receives, giving organisations a centre of information to build around. Data models determine how data is represented and used, and it plays an important part in implementing changes to a company’s operations. It is important to trust your data model, and to plan out how you want to gather and store your data.

Different Types of Data Models

There are a number of data model types, each catering to a different business purpose. Each data model has a different processing procedure, which helps businesses comprehend their data and find ways to utilise it.

Star Schema

Star Schema is named after it’s star-shaped diagram, and its purpose is to question huge informational indexes. Star Schema is often used to help business insight, OLAP cubes, analytic applications and impromptu inquires. While it has one of the least complicated architecture, a star schema is one of the more popular data models.

Physical Data Model

A physical data model functions by highlighting the structure of data. This refers to things such as the communication between computer procedures or tables and columns. The formation of the data model changes with the specific needs of the procedures, and works with the information to guarantee successful execution.

Logical Data Model

A logical data model takes the framework of the data components, and then sorts these components into a system, noting the relationship between them. This data model can be the foundation of the physical data model, and also filters the data components which a conceptual data model presents.

Enterprise Data Model

The enterprise data model gives an overview on all data a company may have. This data model gives a broad, yet specific diagram of the organisations data, and helps in creating other database parts such as entity relationship diagrams and XML schemas.

Wanting to make the most of your data, but unsure where to start? At AtoBI, we are experts in data analytics, and our professional consultants are ready to help your business thrive. Contact us today to find out more.

How to Create a Data Driven Culture

Advancements in technology have seen the world of business embrace data, making it easy to assume that everyone is taking equal advantage of this new resource. Recent studies, however, have revealed that companies across a range of industries are struggling to establish a data driven culture. Randy Bean and Thomas Davenport report that 72% of survey participants have yet to forge a data culture, and 53% state that they are not yet treating data as a business asset.

There is endless value in data, and by creating a data-centric culture that understands and utilizes this resource you are better able to manage the associated risks, while reaping the many rewards.

When it comes to creating a data driven culture, there are a few things you can do. The first is to invest in the right data related equipment and tools. Whether this is a machine learning tool to provide data quality assurance checks, or business intelligence software to help create better end-user processes. Once you have the right tool set, an effective way to engage your staff is to open your tools to wider data pools, engaging more areas of the business and multiple branches of staff. This creates a culture of data enthusiasts, opening up a space where data is not only accepted but sort after.

Educating your staff will go a long way in helping them understand and embrace data. Every API is different, so ensuring your staff are aware of the relevant nuances allows them to better strategize using the data they have acquired. If your CIO is able to set data-centric goals which bring value to your business, then data becomes an actionable tool to improve your business in a multitude of ways, and with KPIs in place your staff will be more motivated, more educated and your business will thrive.

Are you confident in your ability to make the most of your data? At AtoBI, we understand every aspect of data analytics, and our professional consultants can help you create a data plan best suited to your business needs. Contact us today to find out more about how data can transform your business culture.

How Analytics Can Help You Make Better Marketing Decisions

Today’s business owners are faced with many challenges and keeping up with data is one of them. As technology advances, business owners are finding new ways to market their products. These new strategies bring with them a sudden and large multitude of statistics and metrics which can easily overwhelm anyone trying to make sense of which figures are worth analysing. Data-driven marketing gives business owners a chance to really dig deep into their customer base, their sales, and their budget, to find out the most effective ways to market their products or services. It is through analytics you can find answers to all your questions, and once you have business goals in place, data can help ensure you are on the right path.

When analysing your business data, there are some main areas to focus on. While these may differ depending on your business and its interests, it is important to keep these things in mind when making marketing decisions.

Customers and clients are the focus for almost every business, and it is important to know where they are coming from, and if they like what you’re doing. You can do this by tracking the origin of your highest quality leads and being sure to make the most of that source. It can be easy to get caught up in social media engagement, and while that may be the key source of leads for some companies, it is important to find out where all your leads are coming from, and which of those leads are giving you the best returns. When it comes to tracking enjoyment, there are a few ways you can do this. You can analyse time spent on your website, the number of pages a customer visits, or their click-through rate (CTR). It is also important to note when a certain post or blog gains more attention, and to find out why; was it the content, the style, the layout? All important factors which analytics can help break down for you.

Data-driven marketing also considers the negatives, such as what might make potential customers disengage with your content, and if your current strategy is effective in making your business money. When it comes to creating an efficient marketing strategy, businesses can struggle to break down the cost of each individual lead. Understanding how much your customers are costing to acquire is an important part of your strategy.

Do you feel as if your business isn’t making the most of your data, or maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by what all of this means? No matter the size of your business, AtoBI are here to help.

AtoBI are experts in helping you track, break down and understand your data. Our consultants can help ensure that you understand your audience and use this information to market your products effectively. For more information on what AtoBI can do for you, contact us on (03) 9017 1820 or email us at info@atobi.com.au.

Leveraging Your Data

Data is an invaluable resource, and today organisations are taking advantage of this asset more than ever before. As organisations and businesses start to delve into the world of data, they are faced with the challenge of having to manage vast amounts of real-time, heterogeneous data, with an expectation of doing so effectively and efficiently. The future of business is reliant on data, and as we move towards a reliance on virtual technologies, data management and analysis are a key part in how we emulate physical tasks with technology.

Data management is extremely complex, and there are lots of risks associated with storing and analysing data, including privacy, security, ethics and so on. There is also the issue of understanding the raw data and being able to analyse the data to create effective strategies. Companies need to know what they want out of their data before they even begin, to be sure they have a solid understanding of what they want to achieve. This is where a top-quality consultancy comes into the picture. It is important to have full confidence in your data management system, and there is no better way to be sure you are making the most of your data, and staying secure, than working with a business solutions consultancy like AtoBI. When working with a consultant, you are opening the door to a whole new world of data management solutions, such as data warehouse alternatives like data catalogues, and more effective ways to break down your data.

At AtoBI, we know that good quality data is the foundation for businesses to make fact based, sound decisions. We professionally manage all types of data, and with over 10 years of industry experience in Australia, are confident in all aspects of data management. AtoBI are masters in ETL (extract, transform, load), and our customers have access to real-time dashboards allowing you to make the best decisions for your business in real time. For more information, contact us on info@atobi.com.au.

When Is The Right Time To Upgrade?

Clients often come to us to assist with their system upgrades. One of the key areas of discussion is around what version should they upgrade to and when should the upgrade occur?

There are several reasons why you may need to upgrade or apply a system patch/point release: take advantage of newer features; keep aligned to vendor supported version; to address a bug/issue with your current installed version;… Whatever the reason is it is important that you have a upgrade strategy. An upgrade strategy should address the software version that you are planning to upgrade to (eg, N or N-1); the frequency of major releases from the vendor; the available window to perform the upgrade in; the anticipated budget of performing the upgrade; the recovery/roll-back strategy in case the upgrade needs to be aborted; what system and user testing is required after the upgrade; communications to the end users of the system upgrade and any actions required by them;…

First, the frequency question. Some may say this is an easy problem to solve but what if the vendor only releases one major release a year. Then if you adopt an N-1 policy for updates then your system could be potentially two years old for your users! Conversely if releases are five times a year and you want to adopt an N-1 strategy then you are potentially looking at five upgrades in a year. This may become cost prohibitive for the benefit that you gain. Balance is the key here. As a rule of thumb, you should perform at least two upgrades per year approximately 6 months apart and away from any blackout window or other critical processing periods.

The next question is whether you should adopt an N or N-1 upgrade strategy. This becomes more of a question around your confidence in the vendor to provide a quality release with minimal bugs. We normally advise that you follow an N-1 approach assuming the software vendor does several major releases a year as a starting point. If releases are more frequent and the core of the software is stable and isn’t changing, then you may consider following an N approach. Perhaps when there are significant changes to the core of the software fall back to an N-1 release for several upgrades and then go back to an N approach. Some clients may decide to temporarily change from N-1 to N to take advantage of a new critical feature that is in demand by the business.

Finally, should you upgrade for minor/dot releases? The simple answer is no unless it fixes a bug that your business is experiencing, provides additional security or provides a feature that you need for your business.

You must not forget to perform upgrades as you introduce risk to the business by not regularly upgrading. Data and system security are often cited as a concern by not upgrading but another risk is that you may be unintentionally holding the business back by not taking advantage of new software features. System stability is often stated as another reason not to upgrade which I feel is a short-sighted view. When you do eventually upgrade you are placing a significantly increased risk on the business post upgrade. The reason is that the upgrade is no longer a routine business task, and this leads to the upgrade potentially becoming a major project which will attract other risks and costs.

Not sure how to plan an upgrade strategy, email AtoBI at info@atobi.com.au and let us help.

The Evolving Role of Finance in Healthcare

Finance Executives are now playing an increasingly crucial role in organisations and Healthcare is no exception. Not only are their responsibilities & mandate growing, but they also need to step up their involvement at a strategic level to help deliver better care at a lower cost.

This increased leadership role requires skills that exceed the scope of Finance: Good understanding of clinical challenges, people management, technology acumen, communication decision making, data-driven…

The key priorities of Finance in Healthcare are changing as the industry is moving towards value-based care, process automation and financial efficiency.

Driving Cost Management Initiatives

CFOs are under increasing pressure to drive cost improvement measures and keep operating margins at the right level. Taking well-informed decisions requires comprehensive, granular and real-time information to ensure full efficiency and build the credibility of Finance as a strategic advisor.

Finance must take the lead and provide efficient processes, tools and resources to help:

  • Prevent risks & costs before they occur or get out of control
  • Advise and provide recommendations with the #1 outcome in mind: Patient Care
  • Monitor the efficiency of cost reduction measures

From a technology perspective, the CFO needs to work hand in hand with the CIO to re-examine the IT ecosystem, automate simple & repetitive tasks with Robotic Automation and AI tools, and assess the cost-effectiveness of maintaining separate systems, consolidating them or creating a hybrid infrastructure.

Supporting Clinical performance & Quality of Care

The Finance department is the cornerstone of a Health organisations’ performance not only ensuring financial sustainability but also in supporting clinical excellence and helping improve the quality of care.

How? By tracking and forecasting more efficient key metrics from Financial indicators to clinical KPIs such as: Hospital Acquired Complications, Relative Stay Index, Average Length of Stay, Readmission rate, Average Diagnosis coded (Acuity), Long Stay proportion, Operating Expenses, Labour Costs, Activity-based Funding…

Being at the heart of the organisation, Finance is in a unique position to better link clinical & costing data and drive process improvements.

Keeping an eye on the Revenue Cycle

Finance Executives are on the frontline to speed up the revenue cycle and provide visibility over the complete cycle of care. They need to build a 360° and accurate, real-time view of the patient journey, connecting to all data (Financial, clinical, external…) to help drive better performance.

Making sure the patient experience is outstanding from admission to discharge also means providing transparent costing information, seamless payment, feedback collection through Patient Reported Measures…

Implementing Better Performance Management Processes

Collaboration, workflows and Budgeting/Forecasting processes usually offer much room for improvement in Healthcare and cause inefficiency, poorly informed governance and transparency challenges.

Developing more integrated and streamlined processes across financial planning and strategic capital allocation must be one of Finance’s top priorities, as well as leveraging rolling forecasts to foster consistent financial performance and responsiveness.

However, just implementing a system is not sufficient if the underlying process is not addressed too. Combining People, Structures and Technology is key to improving collaboration and performance across the organisation and can generate significant returns.

Communicating effectively

Finance now requires more than ever, great communication skills and tools. The days of quarterly presentations over outdated endless spreadsheets is over, and CFOs are now accountable to provide timely, accurate and clear information to the business, allowing fast and well-informed decisions.

All stakeholders need a good understanding of the relationship between critical financial, quality, patient flow and workforce data points. Everyone from the executive team to the care team and even the patients themselves need easy access to the insights to facilitate better health for patients and a better bottom line for the organisation.

This is now made possible by self-service Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management platforms, which allow the automation of Dashboard & Board Packs as well as ad-hoc, intuitive and self-service reports and queries.

Collecting insights and providing access to the right information at the right time is a responsibility now shared by both IT and Finance and a key requirement for a well-functioning Healthcare organisation.

Written by Olivier Bastard – Account Executive at AtoBI
Get in touch with Olivier

Embedded Analytics

What is “Embedded Analytics”?

Simply put, it means data visualisations seamlessly integrated into a larger environment, such as a company intranet page.

What’s the benefit?

Traditionally, Business Intelligence (BI) software has been self-contained applications that require installation and training for users, making it a chore for them and increasing maintenance loads on IT teams. This approach has always been a blocker for delivering answers to business questions, since most users are too busy doing their jobs to go hunting for data in slow, difficult-to-use software applications.

Embedding analytics into an existing environment provides relevant, real-world and always up-to-date information to end users in a place that they’re already familiar with. It does not require users to go seeking data or to learn new software applications. Rather, it puts interactive visualisations at their fingertips and keeps the important information front of mind for them all the time.

Not only can embedded analytics provide high-level KPI data to users in a place like a corporate intranet, it can also be used to deliver complete solutions for users requiring detailed analytics tools. This entire scenario can be delivered in-browser and seamlessly integrated into the intranet.

Embedded Analytics allows

  • Ease of use
  • Saves time
  • Central location for all data analysis and reporting
  • Provides the same look and feel interface whilst accessing data from different applications/sources
  • Secure

Sounds great but how do we do it?

While the idea sounds large and very expensive, it doesn’t have to be either of those things. AtoBI can rapidly deliver solutions from small-scale visualisations in existing environments right through to fully interactive, cross-platform analytics applications that integrate data from multiple sources and deliver it in a web browser.

Usual Beasts And How To Defeat Them – Tackling Reporting & Planning Challenges

Most Sales and Finance teams are familiar with the spreadsheet hell: End of month, budgeting season, Re-Forecast, Board pack… often mean hours of work in Excel, crunching data manually, using error-prone formulas and pivot tables ad nauseam.

But why, despite the diversity of Business Intelligence and Corporate Management Solutions, does time-consuming, unefficient manual work still persist? And how can organisations achieve smarter Reporting and Planning processes?

1- The cost of inaction

I once heard from a CFO: “Our month-end reports and budgets always end up on-time, I don’t think improving a non-perfect, but functioning process should be the priority.

Yes, streamlining reporting & planning processes cost time and money. But the cost of inaction is often overlooked. The information consumed by CXOs are the primary source of decision-making for organisations and critical to align Strategic vision with Execution. There is a proven link between performing, competitive organisations and their ability to continuously improve their Performance Management strategy.

What if implementing more efficient processes could help produce frequent, accurate and automated Reports & Forecasts? What is the cost of decisions made too late, on outdated asumptions, or with a partial view? How about staff retention (can sales and finance teams spend their time in a more productive and stimulating way than crunching data in Excel?).

2- Excel use will decrease, but not completely disappear

Business intelligence, Corporate Performance Management, Planning solutions have been around for decades now and definitely improved dramatically. However spreadsheets remain. Why?

First, because it’s the most common skillset and everyone knows how Excel works. It’s universal and when most companies constantly modernise their IT ecosystem, Excel has been one of the most durable and consistent tool across organisations.

Secondly, because it offers autonomy and flexibility. Sales can crunch their own numbers and quickly answer ad-hoc questions on the fly without waiting IT or the BI team to come back to them the day after.

Regardless the systems in place, Excel has to be in the picture and the answer is not as simple as “Replacing spreadsheets”. The solution is more about how can we make these spreadsheet processes part of the data governance & automation strategy wihtout creating shadow-IT or parallel processes, challeng their purpose and bring incremental changes.

3- Focus on high-value activities

This can be an easy thing to say, especially when most teams can’t do anything but keep their nose to the grindstone to meet deadlines and keep up with their day-to-day activities.

Now that technology offers many ways to automate repetitive tasks, we can afford spending more time on what actually matters most: decision-support, value-added analysis and strategic insights. But it doesn’t happen overnight.

A strtegic vision supported by a step-by-step, pragmatic approach offers minimum risk for a quick return on investment. Aim at running a Marathon, but start walking 5km first: It’s the same for any BI project. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can bring a major impact and massive value, but have you started building a single source of truth, addressed data quality issues, removed manual & repetitive tasks, integrated Reporting & Planning processes across the organisation already?

If you want to know more about how we can help drive better performance and streamline processes from Data Management to Reporting and Forecasting in your organisation, feel free to reach out!

If you need assistance navigating through Data Management, Business intelligence, Corporate Performance Management or AI & ML solutions, please feel free to reach out to us!

Written by Olivier Bastard – Account Executive at AtoBI
Get in touch with Olivier

The Real Meaning Of AI

 There has been a significant shift over the last 5 years with focus moving from BI to AI and ML.  As market leaders AtoBI are aligned with technologies that are at the forefront of this change, to ensure that our customers have cutting edge solutions.

On 7 December 2017 a critical milestone was reached when Googles AlphaZero Program defeated the 2016 world computer chess champion, Stockfish 8.  Its human creators never taught it, it used machine learning principles to self-learn in just 4 hours.  Scary as it is, we shouldn’t be frightened of progress, in fact we should embrace these changes.

It’s not just understanding the technologies available but recognising the complexities that customers have, even in similar industries.  Finding the right solution to address your issues can sometimes seem a daunting task, but AtoBI is here to provide you with the confidence that our extensive experience and expertise will make your journey with these new technologies easier. We pride ourselves on our expert team and their ability to help our customers navigate this new world.

If you are still apprehensive, don’t be, try to think of AI as Assistive Intelligence rather than Artificial Intelligence.  AI is designed and ultimately controlled by humans, to increase the accuracy of insights and aid prediction.  We should embrace the new technologies available to us. To find out how AtoBI can help you and your organisation on your AI journey contact us at info@atobi.com.au.

AtoBI – What’s New From Our Vendor Partners?

 Vendors are constantly looking at ways to meet the market demand for new solutions. At AtoBI, we are constantly looking for solutions for our clients and sorting the “wheat from the chaff” with solutions. This provides you with the knowledge that a lot of the leg work has been done already by us when we propose a solution to you. There are several other aspects that are considered as well, including… read more here.