How to build a solid data foundation for effective insights

How to build a solid data foundation for effective insights

Data Foundation

You can be sitting on a gold mine of data but if you don’t know how to extract its value, you’re wasting one of your organisation’s biggest assets!

The key to turning data into effective insights is building a solid data foundation. This means knowing which data will help you achieve your goals and how to orchestrate that data into a central hub for effective, intuitive reporting.

Building a solid data foundation ensures your data is accurate and useful. It clears the roadblocks to efficiency by creating a single source of truth. Then the final components of a Decision Intelligence (DI) solution can be implemented to automate reporting and deliver insights that drive better business outcomes.

At Toustone, we do all the hard work to enable rapid data-driven decision-making at every level of your organisation and to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity. It all starts with building a data foundation. Here’s how we work with you to achieve it!

Start with a clear vision

You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your data. This will enable us to determine which data sources are required to achieve your organisation’s analytic endgame.

Start by defining your desired outcomes. What exactly does your business need now, and for the future? Once your sights are set, create goals and metrics to measure your progress. This will determine which data sources and key pieces of quantified information are core to your reporting to create distinct and intuitive insights without any unnecessary distractions.

Gathering all your data sources is a critical step to supporting your vision. Many organisations still rely a manual reporting process that indirectly creates data silos, where one group holds information that is inaccessible to others or requires significant manual work in collating and producing for others. Pulling all sources together will enable your organisation to move to the next step and remove those silos while bringing everyone together to work towards common goals.

Organising your data sources enables a strategic data analytic approach to help you consistently achieve KPIs and ROI. Our team will orchestrate your data specific to your requirements to enable your vision and goals to be achieved.

Data Foundation

Work from a single source of truth

Your organisation’s vision is defined and the necessary data sources are identified. Now it’s time to centralise your data to create a single source of truth.

With all data in one cloud-based location, everyone works from the same information. All reporting is connected for easy access and deeper analysis between data sets. Your staff can easily compare how various functions affect your P&L reports and know what action to take to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Real-time information at your fingertips means your organisation can act with agility. You – and your staff – can make data-driven decisions based on clear, accurate insights without searching through manual reports and spreadsheets. A single source of truth means data can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, enabling quick and proactive decision-making.

Hosting your data in one secure cloud location enhances data security and governance. You have complete control over who accesses what information. When your entire staff have access to the data they need and nothing more, they work more efficiently and effectively.

Automate reporting to save time and money

When all your data sources are connected, reporting is automated to deliver easy-to-use visual reports. Instead of sifting through data and generating reports, you are presented with clear insights to drive better decision-making.

This is your competitive edge – a tailored cloud data model that connects all data sources, processes in real-time, and delivers automated visual reports to you and your specific role!

Hours previously spent generating and analysing reports can now be put towards actionable decisions. Accelerating your data processing will enable KPIs to be achieved consistently. Your team can work more autonomously, without requiring data confirmation and management direction.

Data Foundation

Confident, data-driven decisions for better business outcomes

This is how we create a solid and secure data foundation on which all decisions are based. A reliable data foundation injects confidence into your staff to make decisions that create better business outcomes. Less time spent build reports and waiting for management confirmation, more time for action.

This is the first phase of creating a Decision Intelligence solution. Next up we’ll go over data storytelling and how machine learning generates predictive capabilities to give you a competitive edge.

Decision Intelligence (DI) combines human decision making with Business Intelligence and Machine Learning to make better decisions – tailored to your business requirements, to accelerate your performance. If you’re curious to see how Toustone can implement a DI solution to impact your business, get in touch today. 

Government’s digitalisation endorsement: There’s no better time than now!

Government’s digitalisation endorsement: There’s no better time than now!

Data Foundation

The government has recently announced a digitalisation endorsement to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) accelerate economic recovery by embracing a digital data strategy. Investments in cloud computing, e-invoicing, cyber security, and web design will have a $120 tax deduction for every $100 spent. There has never been a better time to invest in your data strategy!

According to MYOB, businesses with an advanced level of digitisation are:

  • 50% more likely to increase revenue
  • Eight times more likely to create jobs 
  • Seven times more likely to scale

The cloud provides the foundation needed to accelerate your operation’s data strategy and achieve exponential growth. Toustone has what it takes to set up an effective data strategy for your organisation.

How your business benefits from the cloud

Why do you need the cloud? Manual reporting costs time and money and leaves the door open for errors. Plus, your data is at risk of being compromised, either by human error or a system crash. Manual reporting is a relic of the past.

Cloud hosting places all of your data in one centralized location, creating a single source of truth for the entire organisation to base decisions on. This is the building blocks of a solid data foundation that will enable your business to access accurate, real-time data for the best decision-making.

Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits of investing in a cloud-based data strategy now.

  • Single source of truth

One location for your data allows for easy, fast access to reports and deeper analysis between data sets. Your staff can easily compare and identify how various functions like marketing campaigns affect your P&L reports. 

  • Scale on demand

The cloud gives you greater flexibility. If you need more resources, you have access in minutes. This removes the pressure of planning – and means your business can grow even faster.

  • Worry-free backup

Your data backs up automatically. Data in the cloud isn’t susceptible to damage by flood or fire or if your system crashes. Never worry about losing your data again.

  • Save time and money

A network of servers hosted in the cloud replaces your server or hard drive. This makes it possible to store and access data much faster and more efficiently while eliminating the need to maintain a server. A single subscription fee replaces maintenance costs – and your staff have more time to focus on business goals. 

  • Security

You no longer worry about your server’s integrity. Toustone takes care of it all. We monitor your systems 24/7 so you are automatically alerted about outages and see issues resolved quickly. And you have complete control over who can access which reports. 

All of this means you have a centralized reporting model with easy access and 24/7 support that is flexible to your technical needs.

Government's digitalisation endorsement

Toustone makes data management easy

The governments digitalisation endorsement is putting its money where its mouth is by pushing incentives to accelerate Australia’s global leadership in digital and data strategy. SMEs can receive tax deductions for deploying cloud solutions that will benefit businesses. 

Real-time information at your fingertips means your organisation can act with agility. You – and your staff – can make data-driven decisions based on clear, accurate insights without searching through manual reports and spreadsheets. Your data is accessible from anywhere, at any time.

So what are you waiting for? Our team can’t wait to build the perfect data strategy for you. Get in touch today

Decision Intelligence: Practical Application and Benefits for Transportation

Decision Intelligence: Practical Application and Benefits for Transportation

Smart Farm: What you need to know

In a previous article, we discussed how Decision Intelligence (DI) has evolved from Business Intelligence to deliver more effective decisions and better business outcomes. In short, DI combines the decision-making process with BI and machine learning to enable higher quality, faster decision-making with less effort.

Organisations in the Transportation industry stand to make major gains by implementing a DI solution. From performance and maintenance to managing delays, a DI solution gives a real-time overview of the entire organisation that allows your staff to make rapid, confident decisions. 

But taking complex data and making it usable is a major hurdle for many organisations. Often, business owners aren’t even aware that there is a better, easier way to streamline their data to get the most out of it. This is where Toustone’s DI solution steps in to offer any organisation a more efficient system to enable more effective decision-making.

Here, we share how our DI solution benefits Transportation, along with potential directions for the industry to grow in future. 

Practical application of DI in Transportation

The first challenge many transportation organisations face is around service delivery reporting. This process relies heavily on manual and labour-intensive methods requiring time and effort in data entry.

Implementing a DI solution will take complex data from all operational data sources and automate the reporting into a visual dashboard. To do this, first we must create a solid data foundation so there is only one source of truth and fully automated reports. This will allow for the centralisation of all reports for easy and secure access and removal of the manual reporting process.

Now, data sources can be integrated into one automated dashboard for an accurate overview of the entire organisation. This reduces the labour previously required to manually process data and create reports, saving time and money. It also reduces the risk of errors due to manual processing and eliminates duplicate reporting. This also means the entire team now has a real-time overview of operations, instead of working from out of date data.

Next is Data Storytelling. Visual dashboards and reports create a data story, displaying overall performance and trends that can be drilled down to a single key performance metric. This enables rapid and specific targeting of issues. For instance within the Train industry, if a train’s efficiency is hampered by a door that is taking too long to open or close, the operator is able to quickly identify which door is the problem and take action to remedy it. This puts information into the hands of the decision-makers in real-time for fast resolution.

Executing this effectively will enable your organisation to reduce the manual reporting process and enable your team to make more efficient decisions without requiring data confirmation and management direction. So not only does this process enable effective insight, it creates a data-driven work environment that injects confidence into your staff to make decisions that create better business outcomes.

Potential for future development with DI in Transportation

The final part of a Toustone Decision Intelligence solution utilises Machine Learning. DI enables your team to better prepare for or correct an error before it has a financial impact. You are no longer just focusing on being up to date on your daily operations, you are now looking ahead to improve and adapt to future outcomes before they happen.

A key aspect of DI is that machines do the learning for you, saving you the time of gathering and assessing data and compiling reports. Instead, insights are delivered to you so you can focus on taking action. No need to be a data scientist!

Now, not every organisation has the in-house capabilities to forecast future events accurately, but your organisation can with Toustone’s Decision Intelligence solution in place! For Train Operators, DI with machine learning can give advance notice of upcoming train maintenance from predictive analysis on power lines, rail heads, and general wear and tear of assets.

These intelligent models will continue to improve over time, learning as more data is processed to make better predictions and even enable some decisions to become automated.

Better decisions through better data

Gartner predicts that by 2023 over ⅓ of large organisations will have analysts that practice Decision Intelligence. It is the next step in the evolution of Business Intelligence. DI will allow businesses to respond to new developments and adapt to shifting consumer demands in real-time. 

By applying AI and machine learning to decision-making, large amounts of fast-moving data can be analysed quickly, with relevant real-time data presented to the user. This will help any organisation make better, faster, and more consistent decisions.

 At Toustone, we are the data experts. Not only do we have decades of experience but we have a passionate team who love turning complex data into something that just makes sense. Our solutions can help any organisation – large or small – make better decisions for better business outcomes.

Our goal is to enable your organisation to be data-driven. If you’re curious to see how Toustone can implement a DI solution to impact your business, get in touch today.   

5 Steps to Becoming a Data-Driven Organisation

5 Steps to Becoming a Data-Driven Organisation

Smart Farm: What you need to know

We have talked about what it means to be data-driven. When data drives the decisions and actions of your organisation, you are data-driven.

We have also talked about what being data-driven looks like. All of the data you need is presented at your fingertips in automated, visual dashboard reports. Insights are presented to you so you can decide what action to take. No more guesswork or searching for reports. Your entire team works from one source of truth, relying on data to guide decisions resulting in consistent, confident decision-making across the organisation.

But how do you get to that point? Here are five steps to becoming a data-driven organisation.

1. Foster a data-driven culture

Shaping your workplace culture to be data-driven comes from the top down, but it also has to be adopted from the bottom up.

Leaders need to lead by example. Use data when discussing strategy. Walk the walk – don’t let your opinions cloud your judgment but instead commit to relying on the data. Develop data storytelling skills to present a narrative that lets the data lead to your strategies and decisions. As your staff see you leading this way, they will gain confidence to do likewise.

2. Make data accessible and reliable

It is impossible to be data-driven if people don’t have easy access to data and business reports. This applies whether they are in or out of the office. Frustration in accessing the business reports they need to get their job done is one of the top ten complaints from remote workers.

When working from home, accessing office networks is cumbersome. Typically staff need a VPN to access the reports they need on a day-to-day basis – it’s not the same as working from the office. This creates barriers that frustrate staff and slow down productivity.

By utilising the cloud with automated reporting, staff can have easy access to reports from any location. This provides a consistent user experience whether working from the office or at home, removing barriers to productivity.

When rolling out a DI solution, choose one area to start with. You might start by focusing on sales and you can have a reporting solution up and running in 4-5 weeks. Then, you have the opportunity to use feedback to continue to enhance the solution. This helps staff to see the immediate benefits of a DI solution and gets them on board and engaged as you focus on the next department.

3. Maintain a data-driven culture

Based on our experience, if people face roadblocks when faced with organisational change, they quickly revert back to old habits. People are naturally resistant to change. They may need time to adjust to relying on their dashboard information instead of reverting to their old ways.

The key here is strong leadership. Listen to people’s frustrations and respond. Reassure them that if they have an issue with something, it can be resolved. Stay consistent with your commitment to data and embed this in the culture.

Guide people away from building reports to analysing them. Visual dashboards are designed to be easy to use and staff will soon realise they are able to access the information they need much more quickly. Once you go live with your DI solution, be hyper-supportive in responding to and fixing problems quickly before your staff revert to old ways of working. 

4. 80% data, 20% gut

Becoming data-driven doesn’t eliminate the need for human input. The human element is necessary to put the insights from data into action. Your team’s experience, reasoning and creativity are needed to make decisions and take action.

Being data-driven means moving from 80% gut and 20% data to 80% data and 20% gut. You still need people to make decisions, but now they are more fact-based.

Quick automated reports put accurate information in the hands of your decision-makers, enabling them to deliver fact-based decisions for better business outcomes.

5. Don’t slow down now; speed up!

By now your staff are getting more comfortable with the new technology and seeing its true value. You’ve led a successful cultural change and are starting to see results. However, this is not the time to get comfortable. Don’t slow down, speed up!

You have deployed solutions for each department. Now is the time to bring them all together to create fully integrated reports and dashboards that streamline your entire business. By doing this, you get a complete overview of your organisation, highlighting KPI’s across the business.

Continue the flow of communication with your staff. Talk to people, maintain motivation and before you know it you’ll have an organisation built on a culture of being data-driven.

How can Decision Intelligence benefit you?

At Toustone, we are passionate about helping every business realise the value of their data and become a data-driven organisation. We work across industries from health care to the meat industry and with businesses large and small. We are excited to see how we could help you harness the power of data and hope these 5 steps gave you some valuable insight into how to be data-driven. Contact one of our team members or request a free demo today.

Five more advantages of being data-driven

Five more advantages of being data-driven

Smart Farm: What you need to know

Data is utilised to lead the decision-making process, utilising it properly creates clear advantages. Insights allow you to quickly make the best decisions for the business and predict future trends so you stay ahead of the game. This is why there are so many advantages, so much so we have previously spoken about some key areas where an organisation can see them. So, here are five more key advantages:

1. Confident decision-making

Your data is presented in automated visual dashboards, providing a current picture of your business. Available in the cloud so you have access any time, from anywhere, you are always prepared to make a quick, data-driven decision.

2. Save time

Insights are gathered and presented to you, saving time spent compiling and understanding reports. Automated reporting and analysis frees up your time to focus on strategy and growing your business.

3. Consistency across the organisation

Every department becomes data-driven, working from one single source of truth. This removes silos and enables real teamwork to drive your business forward.

4. Combine human expertise with factual data

The beauty of data is that it does not replace the human element, but it enhances it. Your skilled staff assess insights and take action based on the data plus their strategic thinking.

5. Enhanced business performance!

A data-driven organisation benefits across the board with data connectivity – increased efficiency and productivity, improved KPI’s, and more focus on action instead of analyzing. You have the ability to quickly adapt to changing environments.

If your business isn’t effectively using data, you are falling behind. Research shows that relying on data makes decision-making five times faster for businesses. A 2021 survey showed that 46% of businesses are currently using data to drive their business with a Decision Intelligence solution, as Covid caused an acceleration in adoption over the past year. If this isn’t you, it’s your competition.

Getting started with data

To be an effective data-driven organisation, a solid data foundation is critical. If the data you start with is inaccurate, how can you expect to make the best decisions?

A Decision Intelligence solution starts with building a data foundation from quality data. The data is then mapped and stored in a data warehouse where queries are run to build automated reports. Reports are delivered directly to the user, and can be accessed anytime from anywhere with an internet connection.

Toustone sets this all up for you with minimal disruption to operations. You don’t have to understand how it all works. We’ll work with you to understand your organisation’s needs and provide a solution.

Empowering your staff with reliable, accessible data means everyone can make confident, consistent decisions. You control who has access to what, so your staff only sees what they need to see. This protects the security of your data while allowing each department to focus on what is relevant to them. 

Any organisation stands to benefit from being data-driven. Every department can rely on data, from finance to customer service, to make the best decisions.

To get your business started on the path to being data-driven, contact our team at Toustone today.


What is the Cloud?

What is the Cloud?

Smart Farm: What you need to know

It seems times were simpler when the Cloud was just a fluffy white object in the sky that indicated rain or inspired artists and photographers. These days, everyone talks about storing data and photos ‘in the cloud’ or ‘computing in the cloud.’ If the concept is a little difficult to grasp, we’re going to explain it all for you, including the benefits of the cloud and whether or not it is the best option for your business.

Now before we dive into the technical side of the cloud, it’s worth mentioning that you don’t need to be a tech-head to adopt cloud technology. A good provider will assist you all the way through so you don’t need to stress about it. But if you want to understand it a bit better, read on.

What exactly is the Cloud?

In the most simple terms, the cloud is a collection of services that are accessed via the internet. They store data, provide software applications, enable computing and other networking and infrastructure solutions. In physical terms, the cloud is made up of data centres full of services and networking equipment all over the world.

When something is stored in the cloud, it’s accessible over the internet. You don’t need to be at a specific computer or location to get to your data – you can access it from anywhere you can get online.

The cloud has revolutionised the way we store and share information, going beyond the limitations of our physical servers to the combined power of multiple servers. A network of servers hosted in the cloud makes it possible to store and process data much faster and more efficiently than hosting your own server or hard drive.

‘SaaS’ – software as a service – refers to cloud-based software and services. PaaS referers to a platform as a service where tailored solutions can be built without having to worry out the infrastructure. IaaS refers to the virtual hardware that can be provided in the cloud without having to worry about the physical hardware. With all those different XaaS cloud options someone else is helping you by abstracting everything to the level you want to work out. This will allow you to focus on what you do best, with you only having to worry about using the software, platform or infrastructure. Some common examples are Google Drive, Dropbox, and Salesforce.

Integrating Cloud technology

Hosting your data in the cloud means you free up a lot of time from an IT perspective. You don’t have to buy or maintain hardware or software, worry about setting it up, patching in software or upgrading. The host provider does all of that for you in exchange for a subscription fee.

Transitioning to the cloud happens rapidly, with minimal impact on your organisation and low cost associated with setup. Scaling happens on-demand – if you need more resources, you can get more resources in minutes. Your data is backed up automatically and protected in the event of a disaster like flood or fire, so it’s worry-free.

Yes it is. From a manager’s perspective, there are 3 key benefits to moving to the cloud.

1. Cost reduction. Because your back end is managed off-site, you eliminate the costs of maintaining hardware and software, replacing it with a regular subscription fee. Your IT staff have more time to focus on the business’ goals without having to worry about maintaining your servers and systems.

2. Security. End-to-End encryption codifies your data so that anyone looking at it would only see gibberish. Plus, if your computer fails, you won’t lose your data.

3. Accessibility. Cloud-based hosting means you can access your data at any time, from anywhere. You can also control who sees what within your organisation, so only those who need access to certain data and reports have it.

From a technical perspective, the cloud offers:

1. Centrality. Everyone operates from one single source of truth, creating consistent and accurate reports.

2. Support. 24/7 monitoring and support from the host mean you can be automatically alerted to outages and see problems resolved quickly.

3. Flexibility. Access to more resources allows for rapid scaling, within minutes, taking the pressure off planning.

The cloud has the capacity to maximise your organisation’s Decision Intelligence potential. Having up-to-date, accurate and easily available data will allow you to make rapid, data-driven decisions.

Toustone Cloud Hosting

The team at Toustone have extensive experience in hosting big data. Our hosting solution, combined with Yellowfin’s analytics and AWS capabilities, offer a superior Decision Intelligence solution for your business.

Built on a scalable environment with networks across multiple zones, we are able to cater to small, medium and large organisations. Our support team manages all of your backups and thoroughly tests new patches before upgrading your software. We are automatically notified of any outages or problems in service on a 24/7 basis, so we can usually fix the issue before you are even aware of it.

Toustone can set up your cloud-based hosting within hours, causing minimal disruption to your operations and with the highest level of security. Get in touch today to start the process.