Listen to this episode here: Data Empowerment

Welcome to our blog for TALKING NUMBERS with Paul Jansz! In this episode, we share our conversation with Cameron Lynch, CEO, and founder of Etani, a business platform that empowers accountants to deliver Power BI as a service to their SME clients. Cameron is a chartered accountant and experienced in analytics, big data, and cloud implementation.

Prepare for 2021

Cameron Lynch said 2020 was a challenging year for accountants who have clients suffering. It was different for Etani – in the past 12 to 18 months, Etani has become a big integrator and worked with many practice managers and middle-market businesses, which is something they didn’t focus on before.

Previously, Etani was just planning to assist accounting firms with management and operational reporting to their SME clients. Now, they also provide internal services, such as SPM (Sales Performance Management), recoverability, metrics, timesheet analysis, and so on.

How Data Can Help SMEs

When people do the foreign exchange, Cameron says they often have very detailed and complicated reports, which they spend a lot of time working on. Looking into this kind of data and leveraging technology can really make a difference, especially for SMEs, who are too busy that they often overlook things like data analysis and SEO.

Cameron shares a great example of how data helped an SME business. A couple of weeks ago, they worked with a data source called simPro, a job workflow and invoicing platform for trading. Electricians, plumbers, and other tradies can tap into the balance. An accounting firm sends out the scheduled PDFs to a client on simPro every Monday morning, where it shows last week’s jobs and income. And when the tradie looks at the top 10 and bottom 10 gross profit per hour, he found one job of $20 or $30 per hour, which is odd compared to the normal hourly rate range of $130 – $250. So, he drilled into it and worked out that they’ve actually uninvoiced, so they’ve been able to recoup this invoice. They ended up going through all the old invoices and found an extra $20,000 lost in the invoices, which is an extraordinary amount of money.

Leveraging Power BI

Cameron cites that Microsoft Power BI is like the uptake of Microsoft Excel. Now it’s been introduced into universities, in commerce degrees, and for exams of the CIA’s and the CPA’s. 95% of the Fortune 500 companies are using this powerful data analytic tool.

However, there’s a lot of complexities around Power BI for SMEs. They need tech infrastructure and skills, such as the centralised SME business data. Etani helps them to manage the live data and regularly refresh these data sources. Their Xero, simPros deputies can all be integrated, centralised for them to build reports with. Etani also provides pre-built templates for them to use or extend.

For over five years now, Etani has worked with lots of accounting firms and understands the needs and challenges for accountants with their clients.

Other Software Integration

Etani has a full-time developer focusing on building new integrations. The current project is building the integration for Square, a hospitality POS (Point-of-sale) system. Cameron says there is a massive library of different tools in the marketplace, and Etani has already integrated the most popular ones. Now they have a list and are trying to work their way through the list, bringing as many integrated tools to accounting firms, and as neat as they want. However, he cites, some tools have a really small market, so they probably won’t bring it in.

Operational Data is Critical

Cameron thinks Etani offers two things that are appealing to accountants. One is the flexibility in reporting since many tools only offer fixed templates that they can’t change. The other is data – not just Xero or management data, but also operational data, which can be essential for businesses.

Cameron takes a medical practice as an example. A medical practice normally does yearly or quarterly management reports as well as operational reports. They calculate average patients per day and average medical fees per patient. They also need the report on the breakdown of costs for treatment, room expenditure, and staff. All this data is essential for medical practices to survive the battle with big corporates.

The Buzz Words

Cameron thinks bookkeeping tech is a really interesting space because it’s presenting new efficiency gains with automated audits, checks, alerts, and continuous upgrades. He thinks it will play an essential role in the data analysis space for the long term, and he has already seen some results. On the contrary, Cameron thinks AI is still pre-mature and not good enough to give results to businesses directly.

A Piece of Advice

Cameron suggests businesses think about their data and look into both their internal and external data. He thinks the opportunity for accountants is huge because there are not many other businesses that have such a vast amount of client data.