Editor’s Note: Hitesh Dixit, who leads the Finance and Accounting (F&A) practice at Aditya Birla Minacs, is a keynote speaker at the workshop on “Reporting and Business Intelligence (BI) Tools” organized by the Western India Regional Council (WIRC) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on September 22, 2012 in Mumbai. The event will bring together some top finance and accounting leaders, CEOs, business and financial analysts, BI consultants and other experts from the F&A industry. We caught up with Hitesh for a quick chat before the event.
Q. As an active member of the Institute, can you share some insight into the objectives behind this event?
This is a paid seminar organized by the ICAI, targeted at providing F&A professionals deeper understanding of the challenges presented by the data-intensive nature of their profession and how the evolution of BI platforms/tools and other advanced technologies can help solve them. We also look forward to throwing more light on how BI capabilities
can be leveraged to visualize the power of enterprise data.
The event will serve as a platform for ICAI members to share their expertise and knowledge on industry and business. Over 60 chartered accountants, F&A managers and auditors are expected to be present.
Q. What is the significance of reporting and business intelligence in today’s competitive landscape?
Today information is expected to keep up with the speed and demands of business. ERP systems
or custom made applications have become the operational backbone for most organizations. With stringent regulatory requirements and geographically dispersed operations, compliance and reporting have become more cumbersome and sources of risk.
Since the technology landscape is more complex, business information required is often found to be “dis-aggregated” or even hidden, with different data sources and manual spreadsheets clouding the true picture of operational and financial performance. This results in operational inefficiencies and increased costs.
Business Intelligence tools or applications can help us break through the “massive-ness” of data and provide accurate and actionable information at a much faster speed. Many companies are now turning to BI to help them gain a better understanding of their processes and the key performance indicators that drive their business.
Q. As a speaker at this event, what would be the key focus of your speech?
I will be focusing on how business intelligence has evolved over the years, relevance of technology, the flexibility that BI tools provide and their immense potential to help better business reporting and data management.
Q. So what do you think are some of the key challenges that F&A practitioners face in BI reporting, and how can these be managed?
Some of the key BI & reporting challenges that F&A practitioners face today are:
- Complicated user interfaces and architecture
- A drop in system performance (BI has to analyze large amounts of data)
- Scalability issues as data volume grows on day to day basis
- Post deployment dependency on IT resources to accommodate any changes to reports
- Time involved in implementing a BI solution.
I believe that the right selection of tools/applications can play an important role in overcoming these challenges. For example, BI tools with self service features can empower business users and reduce a company’s dependence on IT department.
The performance of BI tools also depends on their architecture and design (e.g., memory based BI tools offer greater speed than traditional applications, are capable of handling multiple sources simultaneously, and crunch large volumes of data).
Q. What are the changes you foresee in this direction in the coming years?
Business Intelligence reporting is a subject that has created a lot of buzz in the last few years. I feel a major trend is the emergence of advanced BI techniques, such as predictive analytics, and the mobile
based BI platforms.
Traditional BI tools use historical and real time data for identifying the cause of events. Predictive analytics, on the other hand, can provide solutions for why the event happened and to project what might happen based on historical and real time information. Based on complex algorithms, predictive analytics helps in determining likely outcomes.
Today information workers want important data and analytics to be readily made available through the cloud and mobile platforms. Mobile BI will significantly expand the population of BI users to include a more mainstream audience, and this opportunity will attract significant investment. Major BI vendors have already started extending their BI platforms to smart phones and tablets on various operating systems.
Q. What are you looking forward to as you prepare yourself to speak at this event?
As the keynote speaker, I will get to be a part of a very informative series of sessions showcasing how reporting technology has evolved over the years, and how the accounting community can benefit through its implementation. I believe the WIRC seminar will provide an opportunity to:
- Spread awareness about Minacs and our capabilities, and share our experiences as thought leaders in the F&A outsourcing community
- Showcase our ability as finance professionals to work with multiple BI platforms and other technologies (e.g., mobile, cloud, etc.)
- Deepen our relationships with leading BI providers, so that we can offer more effective F&A solutions to our clients
- Engage in active brainstorming and discussions with some of the top technology companies (such as IBM, Qliktech and MAIA)
- Create a good rapport with the ICAI, so that we can contribute to their knowledge sharing initiatives across different locations and explore opportunities to share our experiences in this exciting professional area.
The WIRC event is a niche event and the attendee list is also quite exclusive. As a leading BPO/ITES service provider, I look forward to sharing our experiences in F&A outsourcing with my colleagues across industries.
Can BI coupled with technology ensure better data management and reporting capabilities? Is technology really reshaping business intelligence? How can you leverage this change to achieve your business objectives?