Discuss about the Support And Business Intelligence Systems.
Every business organisation has to perform various functions to operate its business. The accounting function is one of those functions which has its own significance for the business. It includes collecting, analysing and recording the relevant business data in financial terms. Accounting function facilitates the maintenance of records of all the important elements of the business such as assets, liabilities, revenues, expenditures etc. The function of accounting therefore supports the business by providing necessary information to the business managers to make sound economic decisions. Previously, the accountants were manually involved in handling the accounting function. Due to the wide range of accounting activities such as collecting, recording, summarising, interpreting, analysing and reporting the data in the form of financial reports the accountants used to find it quite cumbersome. But, with the advancement of the technologies in the recent era, the accounting function has become easier to be undertaken by the business managers in limited time with more accuracy. The development of business intelligence has contributed immensely to reduce the complexities of accounting function.
Business intelligence is the concept that is technology driven (Chen, Chiang & Storey, 2012). It is used to analyse the data and present the actionable information that aids business managers, executives and other users from corporate end in making informed decisions for their business (Negash, 2004). Business intelligence encompasses a wide range of tools, methodologies and advanced applications which facilitate collection of the useful data for the business organisation, from various sources within and from outside the business. The tools of BI can be used to create various statistical reports and data visualisations so that the results can be analysed and made available to the corporate decision makers. The potential benefits of the BI tools lies in accelerated and improved decision, increased operational efficiencies and optimised internal business processes.
In the area of accounting function business intelligence plays great role. It has facilitated improved decision making by providing right financial information on the right time to the management of the business so that they can take required actions on time. It involves developing those systems and processes which can collect, transform and consolidate the internally or externally generated organisational data in the data warehouses that is easily accessible. The application of business intelligence helps the business managers in analysing the complex accounting data and hence it is majorly used as analytical tool by the organisations these days. The analysed data helps the business managers in understanding the financial results of its important transactions and events. The information provided by the use of important tools of business intelligence facilitates improved decision making (Turban, Sharda & Delen, 2011). With the use of business intelligence various accounting functions can be performed in the shortest possible time with greater accuracy. The concept of business intelligence is even broader than the technology as it provides wide range of tools to support the accounting and financing of the business. It not only helps in analysing the financial but also non-financial data that is important to operate business successfully.
The traditional accounting software that were used before the introduction of business intelligence were based on the core principles which could deliver income statement, balance sheet and the cash flow statements but they could not deliver insights for effective management of business. Therefore, the firms used to get trapped down by the huge time that was consumed for editing and working with the static data that used to be reported by these software. However, the tools of business intelligence functions in dynamic manner to provide more actionable information regarding the financial performance of the firms. Thus it makes available the real time data with no time lag. Also, business intelligence often uses the tools like key performance indicators to allow the managers to assess the current financial position of the business and thereby recommending the appropriate course of action (Elbashir, Collier & Davern, 2008). The implementation of BI also facilitates the prompt availability of financial data so that the quick actions can be taken on the correct time without the delays. Before the development of business intelligence tools the business managers had to wait for the accountants to provide them relevant financial information which was typically provided on the annual basis (Anandarajan, Anandarajan & Srinivasan, 2012). Therefore, business intelligence has enabled the firms to quickly respond to the changes that occurs in the financial condition of the company (Williams & Williams, 2010).
The implication of Business intelligence may threaten few accounting roles in respect to production of management information but at the same time, it also offers new opportunities to develop the projects in the areas of finance transformation. The implementation of business intelligence tools and applications to the business also releases the capacity of management accountant to adopt decision support roles so as to improve the overall decision making. With the increased complexities of businesses in the current era, the need for management and financial information has increased and business intelligence has successfully evolved to serve those information needs.
Business intelligence has matured itself as a technology and has expanded its scope to cover the analytical and reporting tools and also the performance measurement tools that can be used by the accountants (Watson & Wixom, 2007). The use of BI tools and methodologies can create competitive advantage for the companies over the similar firms operating in the same industry. Business intelligence is also appreciated because of its cost effectiveness. The implementation of business intelligence technologies can enable the management accountants to provide a broader range of information to the users in easily accessible formats. The BI software not only facilitates the reporting and monitoring of accounting information but also supports forward looking analysis by combining financial as well non-financial data (Turban, Sharda & Delen, 2011). It also releases accountants from the rigorous reporting cycle to accept decision supportive roles.
Therefore, it can be concluded that the development and implementation of business intelligence in the accounting function has not resulted in the reduced role of accountants. Rather, it has made them more responsible towards the strategic objectives of the business. These management accountants are now required to perform strategic functions and they are no more the mere spectators in the organisation which has adopted the business intelligence.
Overview of Ransomware attack 2017:
Wannacry is one of the major cyber-attacks that occurred in May, 2017. A crypto-worm named as wannacry was involved in this attack to disrupt the functioning of organisations which were using Microsoft windows as their operating systems. The malware encrypted the important data of various corporate bodies and then demanded ransom in the form of crypto-currency termed as Bitcoin to release the significant data of the victims (Mohurle & Patil, 2017). The main organisations that were majorly impacted by the attack were from Ukraine, India, Taiwan and Russia. The National Health Service organisations were also severely affected by the Wannacry attack (Perlroth, Scott & Frenkel, 2017).
Key risk areas which can be exposed to the Ransomware attack:
The most critical area which can be affected by the Ransomware attack as the patients of the hospitals can be injured due to such attacks either temporarily or permanent. These attacks may result into performance of inadequate medical acts or the turning off typical medical devices that were actively functioning before the attack.
Records of patients:
The management of the hospital maintain important records containing the valuable data of its patient including their names, addresses, health issues involved and the information regarding the medical service provider. Since, these records are generally maintained on the electronic basis, they are more prone to the cyber-attacks (Gordon, Fairhall & Landman, 2017).
Health care services:
The healthcare services provided by the hospitals are its major asset. Potential disruption of such services can devastate the health of its patients.
Intellectual property assets:
The data regarding experimental procedures for the surgeries, results of tests and studies, the information regarding the drugs formula etc. is of high value for the team conducting research work in this medical organisation and also it may be of important for the external parties like other researchers or foreign pharmaceutical competitors. In the events of cyber-attacks such as Ransomware attack the research work of years could disappear.
The reputation of health care organisation and the medical professionals is highly dependent on their functioning. If the overall functioning of hospital is disrupted due to such cyber-attacks than it will adversely affect the credibility of the institution if it exposed to the general public.
Impact on the Ransomware attack on the above identified areas:
Disturbed health of patients:
The most critical area which can be adversely impacted is the heath of the patients of hospital who can be injured temporarily or permanent as a result of such cyber-attacks. The direct impact of such attacks could be experienced in the inadequate performance of respective functions by the hospital staff towards their patients.
Loss of sensitive and significant data and intellectual assets:
The valuable records containing significant information of the patients can hamper the performance of the organisation as the absence of necessary data could cause extreme confusion among the hospital staff regarding their clients.
Loss of credibility:
The disruption from the cyber-attacks can cause severe dissatisfaction among the patients and their relatives which impedes the goodwill of the medical institution in the market.
Loss of competitive advantage and sabotage:
In the event of non-fulfilment of demands of the attackers the data is exposed to the external world. Consequently, such highly sensitive and valuable data could be revealed to the local competitors or pharmaceutical companies of foreign competitors.
The loss of sensitive data regarding the patients can call for governmental interventions in the form of heavy penalties and fines.
Cyber security controls that can be implemented to protect hospitals from Ransomware attacks:
Implementation of antivirus programs:
The system users of the hospital organisation must make sure that their systems are duly protected by the authentic antivirus program which is regularly and successfully working in the system so as to prevent and detect any cyber-viruses in their operating systems (Martin, Martin, Hankin, Darzi & Kinross, 2017).
Use of up to date software:
The medical staff must ensure that only those devices are purchased from the market and used in the regular operations that are totally updated to incorporate the most recent security features in such devices.
Implementation of firewalls:
A firewall is the system of network security that works as a barrier between the authorised and unauthorised network. The hospitals must implement such firewalls to prevent any unauthorised person or event to access the systems of the organisation so as to protect the sensitive and confidential data kept in the electronic mode (Kruse, Frederick, Jacobson & Monticone, 2017).
Use of unique identification numbers for devices:
The computer systems and other medical devices must be password protected so that they can be accessed by the authorised users only.
Adequate training to the hospital staff:
The employees of medical institutions must be given adequate training to maintain the cyber-security (Luo & Liao, 2007).
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