Danaher acquires IDBS

On October 30th, 2017 Danaher Corporation announced an agreement to purchase our parent company IDBS and all its subsidiaries which includes Quantrix. Danaher’s operating companies operate in a diverse global science and technology organization that is committed to helping its customers solve complex challenges and improving quality of life around the world.

Through the due diligence process, Danaher gained a deep conviction that Quantrix is an amazing technology and Danaher shares our belief that Quantrix is the leading multidimensional modeling technology in the marketplace.

We can assure you that our focus and on-going commitment to you as a customer is critical to us. Therefore, your relationship with Quantrix will not change and Quantrix will continue to operate as a business unit of IDBS.

Feel free to reach out to me directly if you would like further conversations about this news and thank you for your continuing support of Quantrix.

By Michael Salisbury

Breaking the limitations of sales analytics

Sales operations reporting was traditionally only performed by practical sales managers, vying to validate the fruits of their labour (or at least justify their own salaries). Often, the types of analysis undertaken were simple and short sighted, usually demonstrating how their actions led to good results in the previous quarter, and rarely, if at all, investigating underperformance.

“They [Sales Operations] are often entrusted to represent the needs of the sales organization in meetings and cross-functional projects.”

More and more companies are creating sales operations departments within their organizations. The established sales and reporting processes are considered to be a vital contributor to business operations and accounting functions, with the operations team advocating for sales to other parts of the organization such as finance, marketing, legal and IT departments. They are often entrusted to represent the needs of the sales organization in meetings and cross-functional projects.

As the amount of information required for good reporting and insight increases, often due to the need to enable forecasts and planning, the need for a sales operations rock-star role has increased in tandem: meet the sales analyst.

“The challenges posed to simply achieving a spreadsheet with no errors, ensure that no one has the time to really deliver insightful sales analytics.”

In our increasingly fast-paced world, it can seem like the analytics and reporting systems many organizations rely on for sales and CRM analytics are too inflexible and slow. Data-whiz sales analysts spend most of their time merely ensuring that sales data is accurately collected and attempting to update ancient forecast spreadsheets. Too often we see organizations trying to manipulate a spreadsheet which was created at a time when the company only sold 15 product SKUs in North America, but has ended up as a behemoth involving all 130 SKUs and custom payment terms for their 1,000+ customers across the globe.

At Quantrix, we have worked with a large number of sales operations teams to deliver insightful sales analytics, and along the way, we have identified the main hurdles to achieving better sales insights. I’ve outlined each of them in more detail below.

Easy access to the right data

With the ever-growing mountains of data available from CRMs, ERPs, Finance and Marketing systems (the list goes on…), analysts are frequently requiring the ability to combine large datasets to gain new insights. Sadly, the legacy tools used in most organizations are inadequate for the scale and complexity needed to drive insight. Luckily, Quantrix makes the process of importing data easy. With simple drag-and-drop tools, and no need for scripting or IT support, analysts can quickly connect to internal data-sources and cloud-based CRMs such as Salesforce® using pre-built connectors. This unparalleled speed and agility frees up precious time for good analysis to take place.

Automate repetitive tasks

The ability to automate repetitive tasks, such as data import, streamlines processes across the organization. Access to the most up-to-date information for any user of the system means that organizations are no longer reliant upon a limited group of employees with the ability to perform critical data exports and consolidations.

Embrace user buy-in

User buy-in is an often-overlooked aspect of any decision to improve internal processes. The ability to provide self-service analytics in an intuitive dashboard, as well as the ability to drill down further into the data supporting the analysis, provides board members, executives, managers (and almost any other relevant function within the business), with a better understanding of the cogitations of the analysis – this understanding and transparency inevitably leads to a characteristic feeling of trust of the figures shared within an organization.  With everybody using the ‘single-source-of-truth’, companies are able to exploit market opportunities and capitalize on consensus-based decisions backed by analysis.

Exploit multidimensional modeling

You’ve got the data and you know the questions you need to answer, but how can you appropriately structure your analysis to be flexible and scalable, yet robust? We live in a multidimensional world, with organizations operating across multiple region and multiple currencies, selling a variety of products. Your models need to reflect this – analysis needs to allow for any number of different scenarios, so you’re never left wondering ‘what if?’

Businesses aren’t static, they’re evolving entities, constantly changing the products they offer and the ways in which they sell these products. Ensure your model is flexible enough to adapt to these changes as they happen, with minimal effort (and ideally automate this)!

By James Kipling, Product Manager, Quantrix

Watch our on-webinar where you can discover the benefits of multidimensional modeling software, Quantrix, brings to sales operations. Watch here.


Here’s what you missed from Dimension 2017

We just wrapped up our Dimension 2017 User Conference in our home city of Portland, Maine and what a great week it was!

One of our attendees, Robert McMillan, CEO of ScotCro, said: “Best value conference of any I’ve ever attended after 25 years of the business.” This is a great compliment and I applaud the entire Quantrix team for organizing and conducting such a fantastic event.

At the conference, attendees got the first look at, and a hands-on experience with, Release 2018 – the newest version of our desktop Modeler and Qloud software. The response was tremendous! Our attendees reacted very favorably to the new category item generation & solver functionality on the desktop as well as to our new SaaS Enterprise Qloud offering. Both products gained numerous ease-of-use improvements that were the result of feedback from our direct conversations with customers at our previous conferences. So, hats off to my colleagues on the Quantrix development teams for a great software release.

We also had visitors from across the globe come to Portland to spend time with us. Some of the countries represented by the attendee list included Panama, Saudi Arabia, France, Canada, Mexico, Zimbabwe and the United States. The weather was perfect for our evening cruise of Casco Bay about The Islander and traditional Lobster Dinner at the Inn on Peaks Island. Our #QuantrixEvolved hashtag was well used on Twitter, too. Check out the link to see some of the conference photographs and tweets!

For the first time ever, we gave out conference awards including:

The Farthest Traveled award was presented to Tawanda Gorondondo from our partner Celsoft who travelled over 7,500 miles from Zimbabwe for the conference.

The Conference MVP award was given to Valerie Grenier from Tesser Consulting for her multi-year contribution to the learning tracks at our conferences and overall support of Quantrix in the field.

The Community Contribution award went to Rich Lopez from Litehouse Foods & Quantrix Authority for his championing of Quantrix at Litehouse and his dedication to the Quantrix Authority YouTube Video Channel.

The conference sessions themselves included hands-on learning workshops, product demonstrations and customer use-case presentations. Many attendees and Quantrix staff remarked how great it is to see Quantrix utilized in various use cases throughout our customer community. Importantly for us (and our attendees) everyone at Quantrix got to interact directly with the conference attendees. It is very exciting for us to see how Quantrix is being used by our customers and hear what you like, and what we can improve upon in the application. We find the feedback most valuable and we use it as a key part of our product development planning in the coming weeks.

We are already looking forward to next year. Look for a “Hold the Date” announcement soon. If you have an idea about how to make our event even better in the future don’t hesitate to drop us an email at customerservice@quantrix.com.

By Michael Salisbury

Dimension 2017 is shaping up to be a memorable conference

I am really looking forward to our Dimension 2017 Conference in Portland, Maine USA on September 11-13.

We have been holding annual user conferences since 2007 and they have all have been extremely successful. Quantrix users love the opportunity to learn something new about the software, review and give feedback on our roadmap/new features and, perhaps most importantly, interact with fellow Quantrix users from around the world.

For our 11th edition of this event, we decided to change things up a bit with the event branding. We are no longer calling it the Seminar by the Sea and have decided to incorporate the multi-dimensional nature of our product into the name of our premier user event. The ever-popular cruise around the beautiful Casco Bay (aboard the Islander, a new vessel for us this year) and our Lobster Bake on Peaks Island are still part of the social agenda though, so don’t worry! Maine weather in September is typically spectacular so it’s sure to a memorable event.

We are introducing a few new sessions this year too – including one where you can help design the next great Quantrix feature! In the session, attendees and Quantrix staff will work in agile product teams, and present their ideas to the conference. We will also be holding a model-a-thon where we will present a modeling problem to the attendee group and see what you come up with for solutions. Prizes will be given in different model solution categories. It will be sure to be a fun and informative group of sessions.

Our early bird deadline is August 9th and we still have a few ‘2 for 1’ passes left, so don’t miss out. You can register your interest here. We hope to see you in September!

By Michael Salisbury

6 Reasons why you should replace spreadsheets now!

The world runs on numbers. But, have you considered what would happen if the numbers being used by your business were wrong?

Would a professional graphic designer use paint?

Would a professional software developer use notepad?

Would a professional producer use movie maker?

Would a professional engineer use sketch-up?

The answer to the above questions are all a resounding NO. Professionals in these industries often resort to professional applications designed specifically for ease of use in their particular field. This leads to heightened productivity and ultimately greater performance & results.

Then why do finance professionals still use traditional spreadsheets?

Times are changing – Many finance professionals are starting to move beyond spreadsheets and instead use professional modeling tools such as Quantrix.

Whether you are responsible for making multi-billion-dollar investment decisions or simply trying to get your team to collaborate more effectively by reducing the number of rogue spreadsheet versions floating around your office, we’ve done the hard work for you and made a list of compelling reasons why you should ditch your spreadsheets and move to a beyond spreadsheets solution.

Here are the 6 top reasons why you should look to replace your current spreadsheet dependent processes:

1. ErrorsStudies have shown that up to 90% of spreadsheets contain errors – and even small errors can mean big money as seen in the case of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, where the simple omission of a minus sign led to the over statement of capital gains to the value of USD 2.6 billion.

2. Scalability – The issue of scalability is frequently overlooked – what was suitable for day one, may not be suitable now. Many projects start as a small manageable spreadsheet but as time passes and the spreadsheet evolves, it ends up being impossible just to simply maintain it – let alone gain meaningful insight.

3. Flexibility – Data is intrinsically linked in traditional spreadsheets – you can think of it like this: There are three parts to every spreadsheet; Presentation, logic and structure. It is impossible to change any one of these elements without it having an effect on the others – this bottleneck means spreadsheets although seemingly flexible on first glance are really quite un-flexible and any manual intervention increases workload and risk.

4. Clarity – The calculations used in spreadsheets are often unclear and hard to audit. The inability of spreadsheets to display the formula and result for all cells at once mean competent modelers must constantly switch between formula auditing mode and regular mode in order to thoroughly audit a spreadsheet. This combined with the cryptic nature of the formula such as =SUM(G7:G8)/G16 which is nowhere near as clear as the natural language representation: Quick Ratio = (Current Assets-Inventory)/Current Liabilities.

5. Efficiency – Spreadsheets need a unique formula for each calculation – and this creates a host of problems. Replicating logic across years/products/regions etc. is wasteful and impacts calculation performance as models evolve, not to mention if you want to make a change, you need to make it in many places.

6. Collaboration – Teams regularly collaborate on projects – but this creates more versions and more confusion. In an increasingly global world, groups of collaborators often from many different departments and locations will need to contribute. The integrity of the spreadsheet is always in doubt, as a number of versions need to be compared, contrasted and edited to create a true master file – this is called the ‘single source of truth’ problem.

You can download the complete paper which examines each of these reasons in more detail.

By James Kipling

Cloud procurement best practices

  1. What are the main issues surrounding procurement of cloud services? Why are they important?

I think the main issue and concerns surrounding cloud services are five-fold;

1st) Challenges of culture – what is acceptable for one part of the organisation will not/is not acceptable for another. This means that global, cross department procurement is very tricky.

For many global organisations, this will not be a new phenomenon, what might be fine on one side of the Atlantic will not be good for the other. This works both ways but gets exaggerated when cloud comes into play. An example could be that European companies have concerns, rightly or wrongly, that data in the cloud even when located in a data centre in their country such as Germany can be accessed by the U.S. government on request, if it is stored and managed by a U.S. company. Now this issue doesn’t appear for on premise solutions because the data is tucked up nicely behind the firewall and is secured away from prying eyes. There is no simple solution to these concerns, and as such you need to consider whether a solution you choose offers the right levels of flexibility and deployment options to support your business. Can I have everyone using the same tech but deploy on premise for one group and in the cloud for another?

2nd) Security – most organisations fear that because this is outside of the confines of their corporate infrastructure that it is less secure. This is increasingly being accepted as false.

Security concerns don’t go away and are always present but I believe that most companies will acknowledge that cloud providers, who stake their reputations on securely managing and protecting data, are probably better placed and have access to better tools than most companies’ internal IT staff. Again, having the options for deployment and management of the solution is probably a good thing. If something goes wrong, having the flexibility to step in and take control can’t be a bad thing. In all cases, do your homework and ensure you understand the level of risk that is acceptable.

3rd) Support for regulatory and business requirements – if it is in the cloud I have lost control of accepting features and functions and when to apply upgrades. You need to ensure that the system meets your regulatory needs and that your vendor will listen to you.

Many industries have different stipulations on how systems have to be deployed and configured and many have very specific needs. It’s important to do your homework and ensure that which-ever system you use can comply with the specific requirements. No one wants to have to retrospectively look at this when the auditors come knocking! This can be important in certain industries that require the whole system to be validated before it can be used. Giving the cloud provider control of this, means you could forever be in validation mode which is not sustainable.

4th) Data retention, availability and return – this is an area that often gets over-looked. You have to be sure you can get out and that you can get your intellectual property and data out of the system.

Let’s say something goes wrong, or your software provider decides on a change of business model or plan, have you asked how you’ll get your data back and if you even can? Companies need to be careful to avoid lock-in or, worse, that the data gets removed or deleted on termination of an agreement. In some cases, the systems can store years of data and losing that critical information could be devastating to their business. Make sure you are working with a vendor that understands your requirements and is capable to deliver beyond the end of your agreement.

5th) Connectivity –  if your team are on the move, on planes or don’t have a connection then make sure they can still be productive.

This seems obvious but you’d be amazed how many companies haven’t thought about connectivity in the context of business data loads and network traffic. Often the assumption is that the old network will support critical data intensive workloads and as such we can move forwards and procure new cloud technologies. Connectivity and networks need to be looked at based on the number of users and workloads that the cloud system will need to support. Because of the reasons above, at Quantrix we offer customers maximum flexibility in procuring our cloud technologies but we also have a hybrid approach that allows users to have the off-line option.

  1. What surveys/stats/figures emphasise the need for having a good cloud procurement strategy if you are a CIO?
  • 82% of companies reportedly saved money by moving to the cloud.
  • The average fortune 500 company is using up to 545 different cloud services.
  1. How do CIOs and CSPs forge a common consensus on a common language for procuring cloud services that simplifies the matter?

The consensus between the two heads has got to be around risk. In most cases, these two departments will be coming at this from very different directions: the IT team wants to reduce cost and ensure efficiency whereas the security team is about securing infrastructure, data and IP. To be successful, they need to agree on the acceptable risk profile so that both teams can work together. Risk comes in many forms from data residency, to tools and technology used for threat detection and AV to who has access to the information. There are so many different parameters that often it is almost impossible to agree. Hence it’s important to align on the language of risk and how to manage it.

  1. What are the best practices for cloud service procurement for both CIOs and also CSPs?

Find the right vendor, make sure they are someone you can work with and that can answer the questions you have linked to the above. Bigger doesn’t always mean better, sometimes the big guys will force you down their path rather than offering the best approach for you.

  1. What issues around cloud procurement should organisations and CIOs be aware of in the next 12-18 months? Why?

I think I have covered these in the initial question, we see these issues routinely and a one-size-fits-all approach lacks the flexibility and pragmatism for most businesses. Quantrix has worked across many organisations and business verticals and have accrued significant experience in helping customers manage their transition to the cloud. Our technology and approach offers the flexibility most companies need.

By Laurence Painell, VP Quantrix. 

How to Stay Certain in Uncertain Times

In recent months, we’ve seen a number of events which have provided businesses with more uncertainty than they would like.

Brexit is a good example. The pound hit a 31-year low against the dollar and some businesses even began to look away from London for a new base. Oh, and the UK’s trading arrangements with Europe, and the rest of the world, were also thrown into doubt, with the UK government now gearing up for potentially lengthy and complex negotiations. On top of that, throw in a host of unpredictable elections into the mix, in both the US and across continental Europe – and yes, even more elections in the UK too – for good measure…

It’s pretty easy to see why some organizations are feeling, well, less than certain when making decisions at the moment.

Despite this, businesses need to be able, and prepared, to adapt to the mutable economic and political climate. With so many uncertainties, now is a time when organizations should be able look to their financials, data and reports with complete confidence.

But, have you ever thought what were to happen if the models carrying your business-critical information were wrong? It’s more common than you’d think, with an estimated of 95% of spreadsheets containing some sort of error. Naturally most businesses like to think they’re an exception to the rule, but a simple Google search of “spreadsheet errors” tells another story.

The ability for businesses to be flexible and react to unexpected situations is crucial, and this includes the need to be able to rely on accurate, flexible and scalable financial models. The process of being able to model ever-changing scenarios – like Brexit and other political events – shows the need to produce flexible financial models. Despite this, many businesses are still reliant on 35-year-old technologies providing little flexibility.

The FAST standard for modeling is well known, and with the ‘F’ standing for flexibility, it’s clear many businesses are falling short of the standard. The ability to be flexible in your model build, whilst still being able to quickly and accurately add new scenarios, dimensions or outcomes means you can react to new market uncertainties, giving you reassurance in your forecasting and budgeting process – even in such uncertain times. All your financial professionals need? The right tool for the job.

Eliminate the uncertainty of having errors in your spreadsheets, eliminate the worry that you won’t be able to accurately forecast that new scenario and eliminate the risk of not being able to react fast enough.

If you want your modeling processes to be flexible, scalable and accurate, download a free 30-day free trial and explore the benefits of Quantrix Modeler or get in touch.

By Holly Perry 

Mike Salisbury on the Quantrix Product Roadmap

Mike Salisbury is the Director of Quantrix and is responsible for the overall Product Roadmap for the Quantrix Modeler and Qloud products. Mike took a few minutes to share some insights on recent product developments and upcoming new features.

It has been a busy few months for the product teams. Can you give us an update on recent product developments on the Desktop modeler?

Certainly! In January we released a major version of the desktop product and I am pleased to say it is getting great reviews from our user community. We totally reskinned the User Interface application and focused on making the commonly used features much easier to use. New icons, new color themes, new launch panel, all aimed at making the most seasoned user to the new user more comfortable with our application.

The Dependency Inspector was completely redesigned in a recent edition of Quantrix Modeler, and it is now much easier to debug formulas.
The Dependency Inspector was completely redesigned in a recent edition of Quantrix Modeler, and it is now much easier to debug formulas.

Our Dependency Inspector (DI) redesign is a big hit. It makes formula debugging much simpler and users of all abilities can trace the calculation thread throughout the model. I personally use the Salesforce integration daily in our Quantrix sales forecasting model, and our Tableau integration means users can get information directly out of Quantrix into Tableau reports.

In our March release, we enhanced the DI even further by allowing users to navigate directly to the formula from the DI to make formula edits. Users can re-index and rename their category items on-demand, and we continue to make strategic UI improvements like shading the formula edit area in a light green to make it clearer to the user where the focus is on the screen.

How about recent Qloud developments?

New iOS tablet integration for Quantrix Qloud opens up in-the-field uses for Quantrix.
New iOS tablet integration for Quantrix Qloud opens up in-the-field uses for Quantrix.

We are really excited about our IOS tablet integration. I encourage iPad users to navigate to http://qloud.quantrix.com to check it out. Having the ability to use Quantrix Models on a Tablet device should open up some opportunities for executive and ‘in the field’ type use-cases we have in our customer community. I think one of the best features is being able to move a matrix dimension tile to the row, filter, or column tray simply by dragging it with my finger. Simple but very effective!

In our March release we introduced Salesforce compatibility for Qloud. If you are using the Salesforce integration on your desktop models, you can now use this integration on both Hosted and Enterprise Qloud. We believe the data analysis you can do in Quantrix far exceeds anything you can do within the Salesforce application itself.

How often do you release new software?

We strive to have a new desktop and Qloud release every three months. We have adopted the Agile method of software development. This allows us to quickly iterate on new features (and bug fixes) in two-week cycles or ‘sprints’. At the end of each sprint, we have a functioning product. At the end of the three-month cycle we move into a formal test period and then release to our customers. Doing this allows us to be much quicker and more reactive to our customer needs.

What is next for the Desktop Modeler and Qloud?

For Qloud, we are actively converting the Qloud framework to AngularJS. This JavaScript framework allows us to develop new features much quicker, and is more suited for tablet development. This is a big project, but our production Qloud already has many of the AngularJS pieces in place on the login page and the models list on the current hosted Qloud. We continue to work on switching over other non-model elements of the Qloud to this new technology.

In regards for Qloud features, we are actively working on Multi-user Edit. This will be an Enterprise-only feature that will allow Enterprise Customers to deploy models to users, and then allow those users to edit the model at the same time – no more waiting for your colleagues to release the lock on a model. With this comes some powerful new features including tagged versions and ‘save-as-you-go’, all to ensure you can collaborate effectively.

For Desktop, continuing the improvement of our user interface and ease of use as well as developing more getting-started help is high on our list. We are making our Salesforce integration even better by allowing joins between multiple tables in the Salesforce hierarchy. We continue to address issues and enhancements to make sure our calculation engine is as efficient as possible, because we know our customers like to make very large models!

How can a Quantrix user provide feedback?

We very much appreciate feedback from our users. Many of the new enhancements and features are the direct result of user suggestions. There are many ways to provide feedback:

As always, thank you everyone for your support of Quantrix!

People of Quantrix: Brian Cabana, Engineering Manager

Brian is the Engineering Manager and Lead Engineer for the Quantrix team and has been with the company for over ten years. He has actively participated in the design, production and testing phases of each of the releases of Quantrix since version 1.0. He currently manages the engineering team and is the lead engineer on the various projects for Quantrix Modeler and the Qloud.

Brian Cabana, Engineering Manager, Quantrix
Brian Cabana, Engineering Manager, Quantrix

What is involved in your role as lead developer for the Quantrix Modeler desktop product, and how has it changed over the years?

As Engineering Manager, I help manage the prioritization of issues and run the projects from an engineering standpoint, as well as other typical managerial duties. I also do a lot of coding of features, which I enjoy. I’ve been with Quantrix since 2003 and from an engineering perspective, a lot has changed. Java, the base language we code in, has improved. User interface design principles have changed, particularly in terms of migration to mobile devices. In that period, we’ve moved from being a desktop only application to the web, launching the Qloud, and continuing to move to mobile device. And we have had a lot of fun.

What is most important focus from an engineering standpoint?

Two things: usability and stability.

Talk about usability.

In the 1990s, usability meant, “Can you do it?” Today, it’s “How easy is it to do it?” That is a big shift. We want to make new users more comfortable using Quantrix. Power users love it, but we are working on making it more usable for more people. That means making things easy to find and easy to do.

Some recent examples of our work on usability include the recently improved launch panel and the major changes to the Dependency Inspector. Before, it was hard to understand what was happening in the cell. Now there are a lot of clues as to how it calculates, including the ability to hover over the formula in the dependency inspector to see the calculations. Another change is that when a user starts to edit a formula, it gets a green background. You know exactly what you’re editing. We plan to do more usability improvements like this as well as revamping some other tools.

How important is user feedback?

We have a great user base, and they provide great feedback. We also track when people call support. If they have a hard time doing things, we try to fix that in development. We try to be as responsive as possible. At one of our Seminar by the Sea events, a power user told us that it would be great to be able to select a range of cells and filter on them immediately. One of our programmers went home that night and coded up a proof of concept. We included that feature in our next release.

Have you always been a software engineer?

I served in the Navy on submarines. Then I became a high school math and science teacher. I went for a masters in computer science, and learned about Quantrix. I pestered the company founder until he gave me a job.

What do you do when you’re not coding for Quantrix?

I have a lovely wife and two young children. We love to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. I also love to read – I’m currently reading a fascinating history of Maine called The Lobster Coast.

Dan Murray of Interworks to Speak at Seminar by the Sea

Dan Murray is Director of Strategic Innovation for Interworks, a global IT services and business solutions provider. He is the author of Tableau Your Data!, and will be the featured speaker at this year’s Seminar by the Sea. We had a chance to talk with him about the data modeling ecosystem, and the value of an iterative process.

Describe your practice at Interworks.

Murray: InterWorks has a different model than most consulting companies —we aim to do high quality work, very quickly and then leave. Our consultants are good at translating technical needs into business cases. We also provide clients with thought leadership and project planning/implementation. Then we help them design dashboards that help them see and understand their data. We

Dan Murray, Director of Strategic Innovation, Interworks

have a broad skillset surrounding business information including data visualization, database design, extract, transform and load logic, hardware and network design to enable appropriately responsive data.

How did you get started working with data?

My first job was with a leveraged buyout firm. We bought bankrupt companies, looked at data, figured out how to make them profitable, and flipped them. That was better than an MBA – I figured out how to set up capital structures, leverage business assets, and drive profits. Over the last 30 years I’ve used data to solve problems, identify opportunities, and drive improvement. In the last seven years I’ve focused on teaching clients how to do this well.

What are some of the changes you’ve seen in your 30+ years managing data?

The proliferation of data bases – they are growing all the time. Many of our clients don’t have one database; they have a dozen and they can’t figure out how to get to the information. Our practice is built on helping companies bridge those gaps. And the tools are so much less expensive. Small and medium-sized businesses can’t afford to spend $1 million on toolsets to extract data and spit out multiple scenarios. Tools like Quantrix are dramatically lower in cost.

What else sets Quantrix apart?

Quantrix defines formulas the way that databases think – not by the cell, but by dimension. You can take a model with 4,000 formulas in Excel and do it with 40 in Quantrix.

You talk about the data ecosystem – where does Quantrix fit in?

At the center of everything is some kind of database. And Quantrix does something that no other tool does – it architects formulas in a very efficient and powerful way by speaking the database language at the data level, not the cell level. This means it can do powerful things with assumptions for predictive analysis. Factors that affected a business’s performance a year ago might not affect it a year from now, so you need to build a complex calculation that based on a sliding assumption. You identify the dimensions that are important to your business, and the assumptions that have worked in the past. With Quantrix, you can adjust the sliders to see if each factor will impact the future, by how much, and the outcome.

Give me an example of how that information impacts performance over time.

Today, most companies create a budget, and then re-budget every quarter. They take it for granted that they need to revise their forecast, but they are not using that information to refine their forecast. Quantrix can be the tool that you are iterating the potential future from. When you have new information, you should be populating the database with that innovation, and capture your assumptions. They are part of the innovation cycle. We tend to forget the bad ones and overemphasize the good ones – but with Quantrix connected to a database, you can see how good your assumptions were, and use them when you iterate. If we can reduce the time and effort required rebuild that forecast, then you can really advance over time.

What’s the bottom line for companies?

In the end, it’s all about data. Do you have it? Can you interpret it correctly? If you move the dial – which you can do easily with a Quantrix slider – did the expected outcome occur? That, to me, is what it’s all about. Drop the technology hurdle, expose the bones from the assumptions, and have a learning process where you get better over time. It is measurable. At some level, something significant happens – if you’re doing it right, the cumulative effect of the effort will help you grow.