President and Founder
BBA, University of Iowa
School of Management Advisory Council
The world is changing. “Data analytics” is a growing business buzzword, and Tippie alum Paul Buchanan has been in the thick of it for more than 20 years.
“There is a forever greater abundance of data in any process or market,” he explains, “and executives are becoming increasingly aware of how others excel in using this data to gain a competitive advantage and impact their company’s performance.”
Buchanan recently founded BUCSanalytics, a firm that looks to a company’s internal financial and system data for insight into how it performs, and then applies analytics to determine how to help it grow value.
“I was inspired by the opportunity to create efficiencies in the market,” he says. “Analytics don’t always give you the answer, but they can certainly help you ask the right questions. Optimization is all about doing more with what you have; it’s amazing what we can quickly uncover with the data that is readily available to companies today.”
“One company we worked with was achieving consistent profits, but never seemed to have the capital to grow. Our analysis showed they were overextending their accounts receivable and were over-invested in inventory and therefore were not generating the expected cash flow. We walked them through the data and the analysis, and then played through some ‘What if’ scenarios. These insights enabled them to both communicate and negotiate more effectively with their suppliers and customers.”
One of the hardest parts of Buchanan’s work is implementing change. “Sometimes there are cultural issues in a client company that can be difficult to overcome. Some companies are believers and want to change, while others are not quite ready or willing to make the changes necessary, despite what the numbers and analysis may tell them. That’s why we also must understand our potential clients to see if our solutions are a good fit. Our best clients are typically very interested and focused on continuous performance improvement,” he says.
In the future, Buchanan sees analytics impacting business in a big way: “Analytics will affect what products and services customers see and how we communicate with them. It will change the offerings and value of many organizations and will likely lead to changes in the typical business model.”
Buchanan earned his BBA at the University of Iowa. He says, “In looking back at my time at Iowa, as well as through my participation in the business school advisory boards, I believe one of the strengths of the program is the professors. They have demonstrated to me that they are interested in understanding each student. They showed me that if you work hard and remain focused, you will be fairly recognized. They improved both my confidence in myself and my trust in other people.”