Big Data and Analytics plays a vital and transformational role in improving the quality of decision-making, bringing transparency and making a powerful impact on our society. By using big data analytics, government and public sector organizations can achieve efficiencies, improve productivity, and foster economic growth. A company which has recognized the value of data as an important asset and is offering effective services to public sector organizations, enabling them to respond more quickly and accurately to citizens’ needs is Forecast5™ Analytics.
Forecast5 Analytics is a software development company focused on building decision support systems and applications for public sector entities. The company’s perspective and mission are driven by its roots in financial management, offering solutions to public schools, cities, and county governments. The company offers its products through applications including 5Sight™, 5Cast™, 5Maps™, 5Share™ and 5Lab™. Forecast5 Analytics served more than 1,200 government clients in 2017 and the number is growing significantly. Forecast5 Analytics is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb located approximately 30 miles west of Chicago. The company has regional offices in different cities throughout the US.
With a focus on generating superior financial outcomes and sustainable services for local governments, Forecast5 Analytics has built a suite of tools for administrative leaders and their governance boards. The founding idea of the company was to provide every local government with the benefit of a detailed five-year forecast (thus, the corporate name Forecast5). The output of the plan provides granular financial details with easy-to-understand insights that engage stakeholders in the local government’s strategic plan. Since the creation of the original multi-variate planning model, the company has been able to build other decision support tools to guide those core concepts of budgeting and resource allocation.
Meet the Trailblazer of the Company
Mike English, President and CEO of Forecast5 Analytics, established the company with a group that had concentrated on public sector issues going back into the early 1990’s. Mike takes a hands-on approach to many facets of the company’s operations. While his studies were focused on Finance and Economics, Mike really enjoys the software development process and translating the needs of clients into the company’s applications. He also loves working with his clients on sales and implementation. “It is always rewarding to help a client find a solution or advance an initiative within their organization,” says Mike.
Under Mike’s leadership, Forecast5 Analytics has been recognized by several industry publications that focus on the GovTech sector over the last three years. And, while they appreciate the national recognition, the Forecast5 team is most motivated by the ground-level success that clients are having with the applications. Clients routinely provide the team with valuable feedback regarding time savings, project efficiencies, financial savings, and enhanced engagement. This feedback allows them to continue to iterate and evolve the technology. “Our two best assets are our people and our clients. So much of what we do is co-developed in partnership with our clients. By having a great team that is hyper-focused on relationships, we can partner and develop solutions that are having a measurable impact on schools and communities around the country,” he mentions.
Forecast5 Analytics has generated numerous success stories for local governments on the financial front. But, with the recent launch of a new software solution aimed at increasing student performance, the company is already changing the way school leaders are interacting with their performance data and making decisions.
Distinguished Services that Uncover Deep Insights
As a firm with a national focus, Forecast5 Analytics finds itself in the unique position of being able to identify and share best practices across state lines. The company is constantly learning and using acquired knowledge to collaborate and develop enhanced solutions for their clients. “At this point, we believe we have one of the largest performance databases for K-12 public schools in the country,” Mike added.
Forecast5 Analytics has been partnering with various associations and agencies to empower the government with insights through analytics. The company develops state-of-the-art technology used for data discovery and decision support. Their focused team takes high-level ownership of public sector challenges with a sense of urgency to create great outcomes for the clients and the communities they support.
A Good Product Speaks Volume
As a company, Forecast5 Analytics has been able to do some really ground-breaking work, creating valuable insights with snapshots of historical data. The company is moving towards developing more systems that generate “real-time” analytics. There are many opportunities for the company to connect their ideas to live systems and create interactive visualizations of the data. Furthermore, these systems can generate push notifications and alerts using rule-based methodology so that the user does not have to mine the insights on their own.
Forecast5 Analytics is very excited to start the year 2018 with two new products. The first one, 5Cast™ Plus allows a local government to build a monthly budget model and cash flow analysis from data that resides in their financial accounting systems. Additionally, the platform also reduces CFO closeout time by automating several key reporting functions. The second product, 5Lab™, is a data dashboard authoring tool that allows a government to connect disparate data systems into one analytical desktop view. The interactive dashboards provide a feature called Guided Analysis, which provides a consumer with a pathway to logically navigate through aggregations of the data. Schools can use this platform to guide resource allocation decisions for instructors and students. The company is highly encouraged about the potential impact of both products for local governments.
Turning Challenges into Opportunities and Success
Being a lead teacher of financial analysis and analytic strategies has been something that the company did not fully anticipate when they started out. But, Forecast5 Analytics took this challenge and turned it into an opportunity by focusing a great deal of effort in the area of professional development. The company has developed a national network of professional associations that are helping them promote the concept of “analytics as a competency”. As the company takes a leadership position in this analytics movement, the team has been able to use their experiences to build better products.
Today, Forecast5 Analytics is recognized as a thought-leader in public sector data analytics. The company attributes this success to a couple of key factors. First, they are highly focused on the domain of public sector performance issues. This focus allows the company to concentrate their best resources and make a significant impact on an individual industry sector. Secondly, they develop solutions that solve specific problems for the government. The company builds the applications in a way that allows them to go beyond the original intended use. Forecast5 gives a huge credit for their success to the development team; they are forward-thinking and build database structures that are scalable and flexible.
Proud Moments to Cherish
Forecast5 Analytics has been honored with various awards and recognition for its contribution to the public sector. In 2017, the company was recognized as “One of the 20 Most Promising Public Sector Solution Providers 2017” by CIOReview. During the same year, Forecast5 was named as one of “The 50 Fastest Growing Companies of The Year 2017” by The Silicon Review. In 2016, Forecast5 was awarded “One of the 20 Most Promising Collaboration Technology Solution Providers 2016” by CIOReview. The list goes on and the company is making great progress in a short period of time towards driving government leaders to make effective decision-making and enhance their financial performance.
Future Scope: Data Analytics to Transform Public Sector
“Using a baseball analogy with respect to the use of analytics by the public sector, we are only in the first or second inning of the game” concurs Mike. There is a tremendous amount of growth that can occur as schools, cities, and counties adopt analytic strategies. Additionally, the public sector is in the unique position of being able to share data and collaborate in ways that one would not see private sector entities engaged in. Government leaders have recognized that data analytics is not a fad that is going to disappear. Rather, they are grasping new ways to harness the technology for the benefit of their constituents.