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PwC Up front | Issue 5 | Harnessing technology

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48 Up front Summer 2014 The challenge Businesses have instant access to more data than ever. But Mike Branch, Founder and CEO of Oakville, Ont.–based Inovex Inc., which makes custom-designed software for the healthcare and energy sectors, kept hearing the same thing from clients: they faced challenges using data in timely and effective ways. "Spreadsheets full of numbers don't tell a dynamic story until they're presented in a visual way," says Branch. Traditionally, geographic visualizations had to be done by graphics specialists who were so busy that the job would end up in a queue. The result was a static map that might be out of date when it was finished. So, in 2012, Branch challenged a team of software developers at the privately held Inovex to build a solution. The result was Maps BI (for Business Intelligence), an easy-to-use program for generating interactive colour maps of performance and potential opportunities directly from data spreadsheets. The strategy The rapid growth of mobile apps that provide GPS information has made it possible to collect location- based data from many sources. There are programs that visualize data, plot logistics and map sales geographically, but none of them combines these functions interactively, Branch says. The Maps BI team created proprietary algorithms that let users in any sector convert spreadsheet data into an onscreen dashboard with overlays showing multiple variables and how things shift over time. For instance, the software can project how the market for a consumer product or a healthcare service may evolve due to changes in demographics and help identify bottlenecks in logistics and technical support, Branch explains. Customers can embed the Maps BI dashboard in their existing management software, he notes. The cloud-based product is available by monthly subscription at various rates, depending on user need. Charting a new course An Ontario start-up gives private and public sector clients the big picture by transforming spreadsheet data into interactive maps By Wallace Immen Challenges | Technology

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