Published 10/25/13

Powerful analytics: golden opportunity

“Turn information into knowledge and apply it – that’s power,” said Ernie Almonte ’78, ’85 MST, ‘09H, CPA, chairman of the U.S. Department of Defense Audit Committee and head of his own accounting and consulting company, Almonte Group LLC.

Analytics are a powerful tool that can provide insight, oversight, and foresight, Almonte told attendees of the 13th Bryant University XBRL and Healthcare Standardization Conference, held October 17 and 18.

There are great opportunities to use XBRL but there are risks involved: privacy, confidentiality, and security.

In defense, analytics can connect individual terrorist threats; in the private sector, they can identify employees who have the potential to commit fraud, Almonte said.

The packed two-day event featured speakers who leverage analytics and XBRL, eXtensible Business Reporting Language, in higher education, and in the public and private sectors.

Currently, XBRL, a common set of references facilitating global business communication, is used primarily in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The theme of this year’s conference was “Big Data: Opportunity for Business Data and Healthcare Data to Converge to Save and Serve.”

One of those opportunities, Almonte said, is when health organizations consider their bottom line. He cited, as an example, a merger that took place between two nonprofits that left both on the financial rocks because the federally insured patient base was far less than expected. “XBRL could have drilled down by line item to find that out beforehand,” said Almonte.  

“There are great opportunities to use XBRL but there are risks involved: privacy, confidentiality, and security. Always ask: ‘How do I validate this information?’ before you put your reputation and money on the line,” Almonte concluded.

In addition to hosting the conference, Bryant University has recently launched an undergraduate concentration in analytics. For her opening remarks at the conference, Vice President for Academic Affairs Jose-Marie Griffiths, Ph.D., noted that the program allows students to pair their analytical skills with a major in any field from marketing, to management, to science, to the humanities, and so forth.

“Our students will be comfortable not only analyzing the range of data that they’re going to experience in the field, they’ll be comfortable with taking meaningful action on data,” she said.