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The Accounting Technology Lab Podcast – Review of SOBI Analytics – Mar. 2024

Hosts Randy Johnston and Brian Tankersley, CPA, discuss and review SOBI Analytics, an AI-driven platform, built specifically with CAS (Client Advisory Services) accounting firms in mind.

Hosts Randy Johnston and Brian Tankersley, CPA, discuss and review SOBI Analytics, an AI-driven platform, built specifically with CAS (Client Advisory Services) accounting firms in mind.

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Transcript (Note: There may be typos due to automated transcription errors.)

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  00:00

Welcome to the accounting Technology Lab sponsored by CPA practice advisor, with your hosts, Randy Johnston, and Brian Tankersley.

Randy Johnston  00:10

Hey, welcome the accounting Technology Lab. I’m Randy just with my co host, Brian Tankersley. Today we’d like to talk to you about an analytics product that we believe that can be used for advisory services, as well as general financial reporting. It’s out of the UK, but it interfaces with QuickBooks Online, and it’s called Sobey. Analytics. Now, the CEO and founder Brenda Jordan had quite a vision on getting this done, she started building the product in the 2017 timeframe. So you know, we’re now seven years into a build if I remember the numbers, right for, for Brenda, now, the Sobey platform itself, is I think, relatively reasonably priced. We’ll cover that, but the lite version is free. So you certainly can try it out that way. And the professional version is, I think, relatively affordable at $249. But we’ll talk more about that in a minute. So now, Brian, and I have both been through this platform. And it really is targeted at client advisory services, but part of the way that that works is by the very many KPIs and so forth, that Brenda has had coded into the system. It is AI driven. And, you know, Brian, I guess, I think, if I should stop and let you just tell our users what you think they need to know.

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  01:39

Well, I think what I think, you know, when I look at Sobey, I think it is something that’s driven, that is practitioner driven, which I think is helpful. It also does, it goes through and looks at financial, non financial performance indicators, they actually have tools where you can create your own performance indicators, if you want to track other stats, as an example, you know, if somebody was in the healthcare, you know, let’s say we’re in the health care direct provider business, they might want to track the kinds of encounters they had, or the number of encounters they had with patients during the day, just so we could kind of see what we had, or you know, the percentage that somebody was scheduled. So they have the ability to pull data in from those external sources. But they also have some rolling budgeting, and Cash Flow Planning, as well as some scenario and business business model tools. So this, you know, again, I think the use of this is really, if you’re doing the real time cast that we talked about where, you know, we’re updated, you know, we update once a month, once a day, something like that, to get all the transactions posted. So you can have near real time information. This is one of the things that that I think is really a a significant advantage here for advisors is that it gives you a way to deliver this data and deliver this information to people on a near real time basis. Yeah,

Randy Johnston  03:05

and you know, I called it out as a QuickBooks Online enabled product, but it obviously does zero. And it obviously does, you know, XL inputs as well. And you know, you and I both been around this a long time, I think about the budgeting tool from Palo Alto Software, the live plan from Sabrina Parsons, you know, she did a really nice job of working through these KPIs as well. But this is not just a budgeting and analytics tool. Now, for our listeners who are with us all the time, we would point you back to the NetSuite business analytics tool, which I think is the best budgeting forecasting tool I’ve seen in a decade. But Sobey certainly has some advantages in terms of their reporting inside the product. So you know, one of the things that they do the work with, first, just I’ve said this, but at the risk of repeating, it’s aI driven. There’s 40 Plus KPIs that are real time financial and non financial. And they have 50 plus industry and sector biz benchmarking analytics. And you know, lots of times people are looking for the analytics in these different areas. And that part of the platform has been attractive to us as well. So other key features, Brian, that our listeners should know about?

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  04:33

Well, this will also work with your CRM and payroll solutions and help you gather some of the end as well. It’s so you can pull in that sales and marketing and the headcount information and other things like that. It’s not as that let’s be honest here that that information is not as highly evolved because it is going to be much more location specific and organization specific. But it does have the capabilities to do that. It also has the capabilities to come up with your own met. Trix the idea here again, is that this gives you a way to have to publish out your version of truth so that you can then have a discussion with your client about what they want advice on on that version of truth. Or you can go through and have a have a discussion with the client about what you see in there that maybe they don’t see. So it I think it really serves almost as a conversation point in the advisory cycle. And so I would encourage you to kind of think of it that way. Yeah.

Randy Johnston  05:31

Well, now, I think if you, if we talk about pricing for a minute, I think your listeners will get to get a flavor for this. Now, there’s forms on the site that you can reach out and so forth, the free subscription is free, but you have to contact so before an access code. So clearly, you’re going to be in their sales pipeline. So whether you go through the pricing page into free or whether you use the contact form, but the features of the free platform include several different listed items, you know, the financial insights with financial performance and budget reporting and cash flow, but there’s also the revenue metrics, and the customer metrics, including churn which is a big deal for software based, annual recurring monthly recurring revenue type of cash calculations, and then there’s operational cost analysis and performance dashboard with cross business trends and analysis as well as KPIs but Brian, the, the professional version has some more definite has all those features plus, plus,

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  06:38

plus, it includes the sales and marketing integration as well, you know, so you can actually manage your your sales funnel and look at your sales funnel inside of the platform.

Randy Johnston  06:48

keep me honest on that doesn’t it also interface with the Salesforce is one of their interfaces there, I think I remember Brenda telling us that

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  06:56

Salesforce and I think HubSpot is another one that I think they’ve got interfaces with. But again, they this this product is set up to import data over Excel. So you know, if you don’t have an interface, you can always have a, you can always have a power query that you can simply update and then have it pull in that Excel sheet whenever stuff does need to get updated. They also have some industry sector and benchmarking in there. Again, the budgeting, Cash Flow Planning we talked about, we had the performance dashboard customization, we can also create these customizable reporting templates that you want to send out to for different stakeholders that may need different things. Now it is priced at 249 per month. And I believe that’s on a per company basis. However, you can buy only the modules you need. So you can actually you can actually cut some price off of that, if you need to, if you don’t want some of these advanced capabilities, like maybe you’re not going to do the budgeting, Cash Flow Planning? Well, I’m sure there’s a way you can get a price concession there. So it’s a I think it’s a interesting platform. And again, I think platform is one of the words of words of 2024 that we’ve got to really think about, you know, this is something that was brought to our attention, both by NetSuite and Zoho in the first quarter of this year at the meetings we attended at their offices. But I think you’ve got to get the right platform to host your data and to facilitate your conversations with clients. And for many of people that are in Kas that are doing heavy advisory, this may be an interesting fit for them. Thanks,

Randy Johnston  08:33

indeed, in fact, we are tracking and we’ll do other accounting technology labs on other advisory platforms, one of the ones that we’ve covered in the past is for impact data, we believe that you’ll see new podcasts on other competitors, inner Val periodical. And again, Brian and I are trying to track all those for you and not just throw everything up against the wall and say, Oh, this is a great product, this a great product, we try to vet him pretty hard for the seat much of the light of day with you. So understand anytime we suggest that something’s worth reviewing, we’ve already looked at the product, believe that it has some legs, we’ve usually talked to the management team. And we know that the management team has a vision. And then usually the next step is seeing that they’re financially viable. So you’re not putting your firm or your clients at risk. So we wanted you to be aware of this new entry for advisory reporting Sobey analytics out of the UK. So Brian, any other closing thoughts on Sobey?

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  09:44

I think I think you know, eliminates that, especially if you’re going to I think in the modern world, real time financial reporting and real time non financial reporting is critical. You know, whether you do this or Power BI or Tableau or Something different, you need to have something for facilitating those conversations. And remember, those conversations are what? What drives your, your effectiveness of your advisory. So when you have people that don’t want to talk on the phone, you know, that may be a generational thing. But, you know, it’s, it’s critical that people get those skills. So I’m actually trying to teach my son how to talk on the phone now. So that he’s, he’s more effective at it. So I encourage you to, to look at these platforms, because I think he will make it a little bit easier for people to have those discussions they need to, because both parties can have some frame of reference about what the number is and what it was and what they’re talking about, instead of having to just do it completely off the cuff without any notes or anything.

Randy Johnston  10:47

Yeah. And so my final parting thought on this today would be that, you could use the reports that are built into Xero, or QuickBooks or any of these other accounting platforms, but the reporting is usually insufficient. And it’s also very manual. And these tools are designed to be real time collaborative tools. And, you know, my favorite word of the last few years has been collaborative, whether it’s in accounting, or whether it’s in productivity like Microsoft, 365, and so forth. We think this is an indicator of the future of accounting. A pleasure, always nice to have you with us in the accounting Technology Lab. And we’ll be with you for another episode in the near future. Good day.

Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP, CGMA  11:33

Thank you for sharing your time with us. We’ll be back next Saturday with a new episode of the technology lab, from CPA practice advisor. Have a great week.