A desire to restructure its business infrastructure coupled with an IT team focusing purely on internal projects allowed Touch Networks to deploy a business intelligence (BI) strategy to its growing business.
The company, which designs infrastructure for banking merchants through electronic products, recently formed a partnership with Information Builders, from which chief financial officer, Tony Bianco, says the company is already beginning to reap the rewards.
“We’ve actually already seen some benefits flow through,” Bianco said. “…It’s a lot quicker and our finance people just don’t spend that time on those routine tasks.”
Bianco said Touch Networks went with Information Builders’ WebFOCUS offering; a BI platform that allowed the company to build upon its growing invoicing system.
“[The system] hasn’t had a real restructure or a rewrite, so our focus before we went with WebFOCUS is do we look at rebuilding what we’ve got right now or do we go with an off the shelf product that we could install and use?,” he said.
“We chose Information Builders because of the flexibility of the product and also because we wanted our IT guys to concentrate on new products and make sure that we concentrated on what we specialised in rather than peripheral reporting,” he said.
A new approach to BI has also made invoicing less complicated for its finance team, Bianco said.
“In the past what we’ve had to do is go into our system, run a report, go into excel and put that into an invoice template and produce an invoice,” he said. “Over time, these things have grown and grown. We’ve got transactions for government, banks and partners in the point of sale area as well.”
While Bianco said the product was initially deployed merely for invoicing, the company intends to move into having dashboards.
“It started off with ‘we’ll do a couple of invoices’ manually and now it’s grown to around 30. This new software now does calculations every month,” he said.
“Going forward we’d like to have dashboards. Our managing director will have a dashboard down the track and this will show how our transactions are travelling.”
Bianco looked to a variety of vendors before choosing Information Builders, and even tossed around the idea of building an internal BI platform.
“Our first option was do we build our own, and then we looked to four other packages and with a couple of them we asked to do some tests because we knew our databases were fairly complex,” he said.
“We asked one company to come in and use their products to do a test and found that their product took a lot longer than our own solution to run and come back with a result.”
Bianco said the project was not primarily about achieving a return on investment, but more about keeping his staff members happy.
“It’s not really about the return on investment,” he said. “It’s more about service to the finance or sales team – sometimes it’s difficult to quantify.”
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