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CEO Connects the Dots: Choose Your Attitude

I was out over the Thanksgiving weekend doing some shopping. Needless to say, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Quite frankly, my attitude needed an adjustment. Instead of enjoying the hustle and bustle of people out doing their thing, the company of my wife, or the beautiful, crisp, November weather, I complained to myself about why we were there. I’m certain my body language was poor and even more certain that I had the Grinch’s puss on my face.

And then we walked into an old country store and I saw a rustic framed quote from Charles Swindoll:

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company … a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude … I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Wow! These were powerful words and they showed up for me to see, just in time. I’m certain my day would have degraded into something terrible and probably would have ended with a spat with my wife by the end.

Instead, I took charge of my attitude and changed my entire day.

I realized just how right Swindoll is. Every single day we have a choice. Happiness is a choice. Embrace a positive attitude and start the day differently than maybe what feels natural in that moment (like staying in your bad mood & being a Grinch through the holiday season).

As we head into the holiday season, there is no better time to choose your attitude. The stress will mount each day both in your personal and professional life as the year comes to an end. Recognize that life is going to happen, and we can’t stop it. Just reflect on what Chuck Swindoll teaches in his quote, 90% of life is HOW WE REACT. Let life happen, and make the conscious decision to be positive in reaction.

Choose a great attitude starting today & let’s finish the year strong!

Do you know why we are called 9DOTS ?? We Solve Problems

I bet a lot of you don’t know why we call ourselves 9DOTS. This is especially relevant because we are changing that. 9DOTS is making sure that everyone accesses our website knows who we are and what we do. Additionally, 9DOTS made some changes that started THIS MONTH. As a matter of fact we will continue to make changes going forward because we love to listen to our clients, we think outside the Box, and we solve problems.

Starting June 1st 9DOTS’ social media presence is stronger, customer support improved, and finally a maintenance bulletin is on the website. As a company, we say we are “Decidedly Different.” For example, 9DOTS chooses not to be a vendor but most of all seek partnership. We are always straight forward, yet offer a hint of sarcasm. We are completely transparent in responses and due to our personality. 9DOTS recognized that the website seemed jumbled, blogs posted few and far between, and social media slacked. We are problem solvers, and that means we solve even our OWN problems.

Did you know 9DOTS is named after the answer to a puzzle?  The Nine Dots Puzzle poses the challenge to connect nine dots using four straight lines or less. Don’t lift the pencil from the paper! Challenge yourself and start below.

9DOTS puzzle solve problems9DOTS  encourages unconventional thinking to generate decidedly different business intelligence strategies. We don’t just hand out software and tell companies to be on their way! Yes, 9DOTS uses Business Analytics to solve problems, but it’s the way we think that makes us stand out from the rest. There is a box filled with Business Intelligence companies. Creativity, dedication and 9DOTS sit outside of that box.

Some people start to solve the puzzle by drawing the pencil in a box shape.  If that is you, then you aren’t the only one! The ANSWER though, is to think OUTSIDE of the box shape. Try to solve it! The answer is below. 9DOTS puzzle solution solve problems

 

To know more about how 9DOTS can solve your problems,  contact us  & Follow us below on FB, Twitter or LinkedIN to stay up to date on all of our info!

 

Data, Data Everywhere! But is There an Answer Insight?

businessman-with-binoculars-44303560-resized-600In blog posts, our LinkedIn Groups, on Facebook, we tend to throw the words “data” & “insight” around like they are one in the same. I know, I know, last week we talked about “Excel” vs. “spreadsheets” this week it’s “data” & “insight.” Has 9DOTS Thinking Outside the Box blog suddenly become a long-winded vocabulary lesson!? I promise you the answer is no, AND I am going to keep it short. The difference between the words “data” and “insight” are just as important as last weeks post (found here), if not more important, because we ALL use the words as synonyms–even previous 9DOTS blogs!

To keep it short & sweet:

  • Data = unprocessed facts, in no organized fashion, from multiple different sources
  • Insight = actionable knowledge that comes from data

This may seem like something small and insignificant, but it is critical to identify the difference. You see, that while it is great to have tons of data, you may not have all of the information or knowledge you really need to gain competitive advantage. How many products did you sell last month? You probably know that number off the top of your head! But why? Why did you sell (or not sell) that amount? What will you accomplish as a business next month, in 6 months, based on the data & numbers you have from last year? Is that change in marketing that you made working positively?

With the right analytics, data can be pulled together from different sources, be organized and help you gain knowledge you didn’t even realize you could have about your organization. Many businesses use data to drive actions and decisions, but if information gives you actionable insight you are much closer to finding value. Turning data into INSIGHT creates the narrative you need to tell your story. As long as you have the correct tools to do so, you will see drastically less unorganized numbers and much more actionable knowledge and information.

Don’t Be a Statistic in 2016, Gain Competitive Advantage!

2015 is coming to an end, and so has your budgeting season.  If you have been reading along, or even if you haven’t, here are a few facts we learned through different surveys and research throughout the year.

A study by Grant Thorton, LLP shows that only 36% of businesses use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.

A study by F1F showed that, out of 1,200 senior managers surveyed yielded stastics like “17% of large businesses suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets, and 78% say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.”

Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, because it is so important. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could strengthen performance management, gain competitive advantage, and of course drive profit!

Read our white paper to figure out how NOT to be a statistic in 2016, and instead stay ahead of the competition. 

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Three Ways Spreadsheets Are Holding You Back

spreadsheet-hell

 

Traditional spreadsheet practice for Planning, Forecasting and Reporting is falling by the wayside. Microsoft Excel is powerful, but for the exponential data your organization has it’s power is just not enough. Strengthen your organization by understanding the ways that tiresome, stressful spreadsheet use can actually hold your company back.

 

  1. Spreadsheets are very susceptible to human error: Incorrect numbers and calculations not only cause a domino effect of mistakes throughout, but they cause speculation of your credibility. When you rely heavily on spreadsheet use, these mistakes can be detrimental. Today, your usual workday and work environment is fast paced. There is no time for error when entering your spreadsheet numbers, but it takes TOO much time to
    stress over every detail to ensure perfection. You need information in real-time. With a business intelligence solution that still uses the familiarity of excel, but eliminates the chance for mistakes you will be leaps and bounds above the competition that still uses spreadsheets, and you have an even smarter way to analyze your data.
  2. Heavy reliance on spreadsheets does not give you the ability to forecast as often, and be as advantageous, as you can: With a business intelligence forecasting solution, you won’t start a budget from scratch. Your organization could continuously forecast at least 18-24 periods forward, and months of crunching numbers can be consolidated to days or even hours. Real-time information and rolling forecasts means your business can focus on today, tomorrow and even manage the future.
  3. It’s challenging to add a dashboarding tool to your processes: But dashboards are actually a great, easy way to analyze data. It’s nearly impossible to view and understand multiple spreadsheets at one glance. With a dashboard, you can see charts and graphs that make all of those spreadsheets make sense. Eliminating the time you’d spend to understand cells of spreadsheets, and adding time to your regular work day.

Eliminate heavy spreadsheet use and empower your business.

 

The Detriment of Spreadsheets

error_spreadsheetBI Solutions that eliminate the complicated use of spreadsheets create stronger, efficient organizations. In the last post I shared that the use of a business intelligence tool eliminates spreadsheet errors and creates confidence in numbers.

FIF9 conducted research with YouGov and obtained empirical data about just how detrimental making an error in a spreadsheet can be to your business. It is understood that many people feel safe in familiarity. Where spreadsheet use may be complex, changing our ways can be equally as taxing. This study shows the negative effects staying in the “spreadsheet comfort-zone” can have on your organization. More notes and statistics on the use and abuse of spreadsheets can be found in the F1F9 study here.

The research was conducted with help over 1,200 UK-based senior managers

Data supports what we see in the market everyday: spreadsheets play a critical role in business decision making globally.

With a statistic like “17% of large business suffered financial loss due to poor spreadsheets,” it is necessary to read about an alternative solution. After all, 78% of British businesses say that key financial decisions are supported by spreadsheets.” As easy as it may be to stay safe, making a change in your processes can be exceedingly beneficial.

From Spreadsheets to Business Intelligence Solutions: Becoming a Profitable Organization

why-excel-kills-your-schedulingSometimes it can feel like you are swimming in a sea of spreadsheets. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem, if spreadsheets didn’t cause so many of their own. Using Excel spreadsheets limits the ability to perform high-value, forward-looking analysis. They are prone to data errors. Errors in data will cause many more days of diving back into that sea of spreadsheets to try to fix the problem. Knowing all of this—that spreadsheets lack supportive features such as work flow and metadata management, that they can’t handle the complicated processes of business modeling, and that they are potentially making your organization less profitable than they can be, why are so many businesses still using them?

In 2014, Grant Thorton, LLP conducted a study of 130 finance executives from companies of $1 billion in annual revenue. The findings showed that nearly 39% use spreadsheets only. The people of Grant Thorton, LLP believe that the annual budgeting process alongside planning tools will create the most efficient, accurate and profitable organization—but this can’t happen with the use of spreadsheets:

“Companies spend weeks or even months completing the annual budgeting process, which is not surprising given that the budget serves a variety of high-level, table-setting purposes in most organizations. But too many companies fail to supplement the annual budget with planning activities that could make performance management more agile.”

  • A little less than half of all surveyed currently practice continuous planning and adjust resource allocations in response to changing conditions.
  • Only 36% use scenarios and “what-if” analyses to re-check possible outcomes of a strategy.
  • When asked why no one has improved the Financial Planning and Analysis aspect of the business to add value, 62% (nearly two-thirds of participants) stated that they were too buried in basic financial management duties.

Read more about this study here. There are a large number of organizations that could benefit from using a business intelligence tool and jumping out of that sea of spreadsheets. Companies that have been using business intelligence tools don’t feel behind. Instead, they find that theirs is the organization that is competing and still growing.

Sharpen Your Axe with the Perfect Budgeting & Forecasting Solution

There is a small number of people who actually enjoy taking part in the budgeting process eachaxe year, and we aren’t all lucky to have one of them at our company. I feel pretty comfortable assuming that budgeting is one of the most tedious, and potentially risky, tasks we do to keep our businesses competitive and running smoothly. Efficiency is the key to success for your organization.  It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” Everyone knows Excel; Excel spreadsheets have been popular for decades, and still are, but they can be a nightmare with any healthy-sized company. It can get complicated to consolidate multiple spreadsheets, share documents with different people, and handle numbers manually.

Many companies even have to begin the budgeting process way before the year’s end, resulting in more risk when estimating the budget, possible error and more importantly, misappropriated time. Extra time spent on the budgeting process is time that can be invested in improving other aspects of your company. So, how do you find that extra time, eliminate errors, and give everyone something to love about budgeting? Budgeting and forecasting software that accelerates and enhances the way you use excel spreadsheets.

When you implement a budgeting and forecasting solution you empower your employees to provide more value to the business with insightful analysis. Eliminate personal fatigue and bring more control to what is often a chaotic process. 9Dots does all of these things, and delivers them within that Excel interface you are familiar with. Sharpen your axe with a set of tools built right into Excel, flexibility to match the process to your business, and high user adoption. Why exhaust yourself spending six hours chopping down a tree, when you really only have to spend two?

Finance’s New Tools for Helping Your Organization Overcome Uncertainty | Business Finance

Finance professionals, particularly those responsible for planning, forecasting and analysis, face a great paradox. On one hand, we live in a dynamic economy that seems to change at a dizzying pace. On the other hand, our organizations seem to be paralyzed by the tremendous uncertainties being faced.
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