Equipping tax officers with the right information to work more effectively – Business Intelligence lessons from the commercial sector

The many different tax types, legislative rules and fiscal limitations present in all tax agencies today makes managing an efficient tax administration a highly complex operation.

Many tax systems today are over a decade old – and most were custom built at a time when “off the shelf” tax solutions simply didn’t exist.  An aging, complex and disparate IT landscape is one of the primary factors that sees employees in all industries lose valuable time in trying to extract the information they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

This is a problem that the commercial sector has been experiencing for quite some time (although for slightly different reasons of course). The biggest difference for the commercial sector is in the large range of “off the shelf” software that is available to them. Conversely, the result of “too much choice” is the same as “not enough choice”, in that there are lots of independent systems that are not reliably integrated. This makes data consolidation challenging and good decision-making, based on accurate insights, almost impossible.

In light of the challenges of the changing economic climate, most commercial companies have been reluctant to invest upfront capital in large scale business system transformation projects, no matter how compelling the return on investment might be. But, like their counterparts in the public sector, these companies want to help their staff get the most out of the information contained in these multiple data silos.

To help staff improve their effectiveness, many companies are choosing to invest in Business Intelligence (BI) tools, such as those built on SAP HANA (High Performance Analytical Appliance). HANA is a modern database and application development platform that speeds up and simplifies data processing, enabling real-time analytics and transactional reporting across both SAP and non-SAP applications. BI with HANA requires a much smaller upfront investment and as it is “system agnostic” – that’s to say, data can be extracted and converted from any system – makes it easier for staff to use aggregated data to do their jobs more effectively.

Although BI & HANA tools have been around for some time now, the way in which commercial operations are using these systems is changing. Developments in big data, mobility and cloud, together with improvements in communication infrastructures and data security means that employees can now access BI & HANA anytime, anywhere and from any device, making their jobs more efficient whether in the office or in the field.  In the context of a Tax Agency, for example, it’s now perfectly feasible to equip field-based tax officers and remote compliance inspectors with real-time information – making their investigative jobs easier and improving overall service effectiveness. Office-based tax officers can now tap into a much deeper range of data more quickly and efficiently than ever before when it comes to fraud detection and prevention. The technology enables them to analyse business operations based on a large volume of data – for example, tax returns and a variety of other detailed taxpayer data, all in real-time.

While BI & HANA is no silver bullet, it can provide a great tactic to help tax agencies who find themselves at the mercy of an aging IT landscape to improve their overall effectiveness. BI & HANA helps to bring some order to the data chaos that often results from working with millions and millions of records, enabling staff to perform their duties faster and more effectively than ever before.