Tuesday Apr 29, 2014

Interactive,Visual Close Analytics for Compelling Investor Relations

Technology is changing the way we do business, and where we do business. The introduction of interactive, visual-style, on-the-go or mobile analytics is certainly helping busy people get what they need when they need it. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitch Campbell, a Senior Principle in Oracle’s global Business Analytics Product Group on this topic.  In this Oracle Thought Leadership podcast, he shared some amazing information about how business analytics has not only become mobile, but more interactive and visual as well.

Mitch impressed upon our audience that the emphasis on visualization is stronger now than it ever has been. Mitch explained, “Traditional BI and EPM companies have had to adapt to new types of users, new levels of complexity, and new requests for integration to systems that never have been integrated before to get a full management reporting view of things. There have also been many small companies arrive onto the scene pushing desktop visualization, and finding their niche. I don’t look at them as an analytic threat to Oracle, in fact, we have learned a lot from what they offer and the response they get in the marketplace and have applied it to our new product capabilities. We have improved what we do significantly when we consider our approach to analytics and delivering easy self service applications for all sizes of user communities, with new options, new visualizations, and fast creation of content”.

Consumers of Business Analytics are becoming a lot more sophisticated, and Oracle has evolved analytics to keep up with that sophistication by providing tools to help the user build whatever they need whenever they need it. “Oracle is known for products that work for an enterprise, and the analytic focus has always been there,” said Mitch, “but now, we see the need for departments and individuals to be more self service, more in need of interactive analytics. In turn we have changed our business process to a more balanced approach in R&D to meet the needs of the broader user community. I like to say that Oracle can meet the needs of the enterprise, the department, and the individual.

But how can business users continue to analyze and make decisions on-the-go? Mitch explained that the trend towards mobile platforms is one of the main drivers in EPM and BI, and is a perfect example of how Oracle has changed its business process. Oracle develops and releases software for different mobile devices, and that development is considerably quicker than for traditional devices like laptops or PCs. Typically, 6-8 weeks instead of months/years. Mitch elaborated, telling us that mobile users have come to expect this development pace, and they expect simple to use interfaces, fast performance, and great visualizations. Oracle typically adds new features, charts and visualization capabilities in each rapid release to meet user expectations – which is much faster than they have done in the past.




Who might use mobile interactive business analytics? In short, many people. Mitch gave our audience a great example - many companies are posting investor relations information on their websites, mainly in the form of static annual and quarterly reports. Further, the reporting available is typically Income Statements, Balance Sheets, and Cash flow reports. Public sector cities like Boston and New York are posting performance metrics on their website, and giving access to everyone. Mitch posed the question, “What if corporations start looking to meet the new expectations of today’s users and begin providing analytics in some new forms? What if instead of static 10Ks and 10Qs, companies provide easy visualization and interactive analytics?” Mobile access to this information would mean access for phones and tablets too. We both agreed that this new access for investors should be free and easy to navigate so there are no barriers for investors to access or download it.

What might investors expect to see? Mitch suggested that the investor experience would be much more like an interactive application with tabs and visualizations that quickly paint a picture for performance. “We could include things that take a standard report to the next level, like visually explaining the annual report.” For example, make the report “drillable”. Show revenues broken into different categories. Or perhaps take footnote disclosures and visually show them in business categories. This type of reporting does a much better job of showing the focus of a company. “With this interactive analysis, we can also include commentary, trends, and even some directional forecasting that give insight into strategy,” said Mitch. It would be possible to show 10 year revenue growth, year over year analysis, and the ability to allow some controls to – say – “take out a bad quarter”. This would enable investors to see growth trends, when all but one quarter is good, and companies would be able to explain it much better with a visualization to show what is typical for them.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.

To learn more about BI and BI Mobile, click here

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This blog will highlight key EPM market trends, recent events and other news of interest to our field, customers and partners.

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