Analytics Gives Lytro a Clear Business PictureBy Samuel Greengard Print
The camera maker requires integrated, end-to-end planning capabilities, so it turned to a financial analytics tool to create streamlined, efficient workflows.
For a growing wave of companies, spreadsheets and manual data collection are a losing proposition. One of the companies jumping on the trend toward more advanced financial analytics is Lytro, an eight-year-old Mountain View, Calif., firm that manufactures an advanced light field camera capable of changing the perspective and focus of a shot after it has been snapped.
"We have a fairly complex development cycle where we track major milestones and events," says Dan Morgan, Lytro's vice president of finance. "From a costing perspective, it is extremely important to keep track of everything and seamlessly integrate data with a number of tools and systems, including our ERP application. We need to break things down into appropriate buckets that are very transactional and unit driven in nature."
The company also requires better-integrated and end-to-end planning capabilities than a spreadsheet could provide. "A spreadsheet would require days to translate the actuals into the planning module," Morgan points out. "It represents a time-consuming and highly inefficient way to manage financial statements and processes."
Instead, Lytro relies on a financial analytics tool from Adaptive Insights to create more streamlined and efficient workflows. The cloud-based product is designed to address planning, budgeting, forecasting, consolidation, analytics, and reporting needs at midsize and enterprise organizations. Morgan says the analytics platform provides a high level of automation and allows him to feed data from NetSuite, SaaS-based business management software, into the Adaptive system.
In some cases, Morgan has been able to run as many as 100 different simulations and what-if scenarios through the analytics platform in order to better understand decision points and outcomes. This includes drill-down analysis of headcounts, operating costs and revenues using different marketing, sales and operational approaches.
"We're able to run the scenarios, keep track of all of them and identify the business approach that makes the most sense," he explains. "We can adjust things to achieve the maximum potential results."
The cloud-based approach has also made it easier for Morgan and the company's 100 employees to tap into important data using mobile devices while working at home or traveling. "By framing the logic and how we want to run the outputs, we're able to manage the way people view and use the data," he reports. "We can create a very consistent and streamlined work environment."
The benefits have been substantial. In many cases, executives can make key decisions in hours or days rather than weeks or months.
"It has created a far more agile way to work," Morgan says. In addition, "I am able to hold my departments more accountable. Data isn't as likely to fall between the gaps. We know if we're on budget and achieving goals. It's not only a matter of having data faster; it's also having richer data."
Finally, Morgan points out that the environment is very scalable and provides a high level of control over permissions. "We're able to control access on a very granular basis," he says. "We're able to run the business in a very dynamic way."
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