Data analytics refers to advanced
forms of analysis that can be used to explore large volumes of data and
communicate insights. Data is extracted and categorized to identify and analyze
behavioral data and patterns, and techniques vary according to organizational
requirements. Data analytics is used in many industries to allow companies and
organization to make better business decisions. Data analysis is very different
from accounting or financial reporting. Whereas many believe that financial
staff or even the CFO can instantly perform data analysis, the truth is that it
takes a special kind of person to be able to sift through that data and pull
out those nuggets of critical information that could have an immediate and
substantial effect on the profitability of your business.
The accounting profession is
surrounded by information that exists quietly in disparate systems, often
unused until it’s pulled for an audit, engagement, or tax return. But if we turn
large volumes of data into meaningful insights, organizations can use these
findings to improve their businesses in many functions and accounting
professionals would add even greater value. Indeed, accountants need to look
beyond traditional business metrics and recognize the commercial potential of
embracing a wider set of data. In addition to the essential financial and
enterprise data they already work with, accountants will need to review other
nontraditional sources of data in order to gain a more thorough understanding
of business performance.
Vistabeans was formed in 1991 when Eli Smith graduated
from college and decided to use his passion for good coffee and his recent
business degree to open a coffee shop in his home town. After a few years,
Sarah Jones joined Vistabeans as a part-owner and marketing director. Sarah
took Vistabeans to the next level by expanding Vistabeans into new markets.
With Eli focusing on products and Sarah focusing on marketing, Vistabeans grew
to 150 stores throughout the Unites States. The mission of each store is to
sell the best cup of coffee and other beverages in the area.
Eli and Sarah were happy that
their company was growing but they wondered if they were applying their
resources in the most profitable manner. Accordingly, they asked their chief
financial officer, Alma Nelson, to analyze the company’s profitability and
prepare a report with recommendations as to how the company can maximize
Alma used the company’s
accounting information system to create a two year profit analysis report
(Exhibit 1). After reviewing the report, Alma concluded that she needed a
deeper understanding of the company’s profitability. Alma recalled a report she
recently read touting the benefits of data analytics so Alma decided use data
analytics to help her prepare a report with recommendations as to how the
company can maximize profit.
Software and Data
When embarking on a data
analytics project, one of the initial steps will be to select the software that
will be utilized. Fortunately, many software packages exist to help
organizations explore large volumes of data and communicate insights. Software
solutions range in functionality, ease of use and price. This case will utilize
Tableau, a data visualization software package used in many organizations.
Tableau was selected by Vistabeans for its ease of use for non-technical users.
Your instructor will provide instructions regarding access to the software.
Tableau provides Internet-based
on-demand training videos to help you learn how to use the software. The
on-demand videos should be viewed prior to beginning the case. While your
instructor may provide additional instruction regarding the use of Tableau, you
should be able to use Tableau to complete the case requirements after viewing
the on-demand training videos. Tableau provides sample data with the software
that will be used to complete the on-demand training videos. Your instructor
will provide a Microsoft Access coffee chain data source that you should use to
complete the case requirements.
Assume you are Alma Nelson and use Tableau to analyze Vistabeans
profitability. Your deliverables include:
Prepare a report with recommendations as to how the company can
maximize profit. Your report should include outputs from Tableau. Your report
should contain at least 3 visualizations to support your recommendations.
Deliver a presentation to Eli and Sarah summarizing how the
company can maximize profit. Your presentation should include outputs from