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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!

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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PwC Finds Pricing & Profitability Law Firms’ Top Priority

PI_Jan15_art3PwC has posted their findings from their 2015 Annual Law Firms’ Survey. Through interviewing the Top 100 firms, they have discovered that a top priority for the future of law firms is to focus on pricing and profitability.

Firms are continuing to invest in business improvement programs. The focus of these programs for Top 10 firms is to drive profitability and enhance support services, whilst firms outside of the Top 10 continue to feel pressure to reduce costs to remain competitive. “A growing number of firms have identified the problem and the solution. Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for those firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

It all falls back into the main idea that communicating and understanding your clients is what leads to a successful law firm. A one-size-fits-all process is no longer the most useful. It results in unhappy clients, and a less profitable law firm. “This depth of understanding the client is a critical precursor to being bale to create and articulate to the client an effective pricing strategy or methodology on a particular matter.”

Providing partners with the right tools and methodology for pricing decisions is also considered key. The article discussing the study mentions that pricing improvement has a very quick ROI. “The PwC report found that even IT projects whose objective is improvement of matter pricing, have an average ROI timescale of only four months.” A lack of correct pricing tools “results in what most firms regard as an unacceptable level of what the report referred to as Unplanned Fee Income Write-offs.”

But, the good news is there is a problem AND a solution. With the right tools, they write-offs are significantly reduced. “Pricing capability and sophistication at a firm-wide and individual partner level is being harnessed and for hose firms it is having a swift and significant impact.”

Manage Visual Analytics Effectively

Business Intelligence has changed the way of the business world and opens a new window to data analytics. Your entire organization becomes profitable, in time and in those dollar signs you are always wishing for but can never quite grasp. This article from TDWIdata_visualization[1] explains just how beneficial Visual Analytics, and its versatility, are for a business, but it also reminds us that Visual Analytics can quickly lead you down a messy path if it is not properly managed.

David Stodder gained perspective through his research (study of spreadsheet use, an interview with the director of data warehousing for Helzberg Diamonds, an interview with the director of pricing at Watts Water Technologies, & more) for this article, and his new viewpoints on Visual Analytics is worth sharing.

Visual Analytics tools allows users to work in a self-service environment with less reliance on IT for every question, dashboard, report, etc. Users have more power, and in most cases, this means users can move your organization closer to its final goals. But with this power, comes the ability to mismanage.

If growth in the use of visual analytics tools and applications is not managed carefully, it could also exacerbate the very difficulties that enterprise BI rollouts were intended to solve.

Through his research, Stodder found one consistency that matches 9Dots’ findings and opinions–start eliminating spreadsheet use. Through dashboard and analytics tools’ versatility, there are a variety of ways you can take this first step, but moving out of heavy spreadsheet use means more easily managed data and less confusion and stress in your work days.

The best course is to pursue “managed” or “governed” self-service that features good communication and division of responsibilities. A best practice is to establish a governance or center of excellence committee to support growth in self-service visual analytics. In this way, enabling “the masses” to be more data-driven in their daily strategic and operational decision making can be a realistic goal.

The key BI objective that Stodder has found through his many inquiries into well-run, profitable companies, is one that is consistent with our blog posts: “improving operational efficiency and performance through better information flow.” With visual analytics tools, users are offered a new set of tools that meets this objective AND it’s no more challenging to use. We understand that change can lead some of us into a frenzy, but it’s no better than the frenzy your already dealing with in your day-to-day. As long as the tools are managed and deployed correctly and your organization is comfortable with how to use it, they will push forward into new data environments AND improve your business.

Simplify Your Analytics Strategy

AnalyticsAnalytics can challenge your organization. Data is so abundant that the complexity and confusion of it all can be overwhelming. When you sit down and try to analyze everything, you just don’t know where to start, or where to go. But Narendra Mulani, the senior managing director at Accenture Analytics has some sage advice: recognize what is important & what your analytics should be doing for every aspect of your organization.

If even that seems overwhelming, there’s one more step—simplify. “Pursue a simpler path to uncovering insight:”

1. Accelerate the Data: “Fast data = fast insight = fast outcomes.” When an environment is created that accelerates your data, your organization can manage that data much quicker. Getting the data you need in real-time improves many aspects of your business.

2. Delegate the work to your analytics technologies with

  • Next generation Business Intelligence & Data Visualization
  • Data discovery
  • Analytics applications
  • Machine learning and cognitive computing

3. Recognize that each path to data insight is unique. With data, elements are always changing and new obstacles come into play that challenge your data. There will always be new questions, and different answers that solve the dilemma of each question. “No matter what combination of culture and technology exists for a business, each path to analytics insight should be individually paved with an outcome-driven mindset.”

By taking these three steps, your analytics strategy will be simplified and so will the way your organization is run. It’s rare that simplicity can seem like it is enough, but with your big data and analytics processes, simple is beneficial.