Business Intelligence is an entrepreneur’s unfailing companion to aid correct decisions progressively in real time.
What exactly is Business Intelligence? How does it help steer the organization’s business strategies?
Business Intelligence (BI) means the transformation of raw business transaction data into meaningful and actionable information. Two, Three or Multi-dimensional metrics reflective upon historical and current data is used to derive workably accurate forecasts to plan for future operations and project performance of the business. This business intelligence helps an entrepreneur make correct anticipative decisions and create favourable conditions for the business to grow as per desired speed in the required direction. Business intelligence, if transformed and provided through a scientific way of data analysis, goes on to reduce business risks by envisaging future conditions.
In the past, BI-related activities were performed through manually gathering data from multiple sources, computing the data in spreadsheets, with an output of a mere static report. Multiply that effort by the number of different functional areas within an organization and the result is countless hours of report generation, and by the time it is delivered, the information could very well have lost relevance and become obsolete. Today, a few global standard ERP solutions like SAP Business One have created their own BI capabilities that enable organizations to benefit from dynamic reporting that provides business functionaries with exactly what they want to see in real time, making the information dynamic, always relevant and actionable.
Real-time Data Availability allows Faster Decision-Making
One of the most visible benefits of BI software that integrates with an ERP system is its ability to give managers a real-time look at the information they need to make intelligent decisions in the short and long terms. For example, a production manager in a manufacturing environment will want to keep a close watch on the floor’s scrap rate or production stage-wise yield rate.
With a quick glance at the dashboard, they will be able to see the information in real time, since the teams will be entering the data as it gets generated. Should the rate move towards an unacceptable level, the production manager can halt the process, identify the root cause and take real-time corrective action before it becomes too late. This data can then be applied to long-term analysis to help identify trends and opportunities for process improvement.
Moving Beyond Traditional Reporting
Another area where BI software can have a transformative effect on a business is in its reporting. Modern BI software goes beyond the rudimentary reporting functions businesses used in the past by creating a more dynamic environment for users to manipulate data as needed. Traditionally, reporting was a static process – business leaders could get a snapshot of where a certain data-set stood at the end of a specific period.
BI puts all of the collected data at the user’s fingertips in a way that makes sense for each individual stakeholder. This allows for a real-time look at data without having to pull it out of the system, enter it into a spreadsheet and create a report. The BI feature in an ERP system allows any user, whether it’s a line manager or C-level executive, to quickly access a customized dashboard loaded with intuitive data visualizations on the most relevant KPIs, with an ability for ad-hoc reporting.
The BI module also brings a high level of consistency to the reporting process. With traditional reporting, if a sales head needs all of their regional managers to deliver a report on sales for the quarter, it’s likely that each report will differ in terms of format and the source of how that data was collected and treated. The HOD must then put these pieces together, which could lead to errors, mismatches and a lot of wasted time. By using BI capability that is integrated with an ERP system, each manager will be working with the same data-set and be able to deliver similarly formatted reports with the same treatment to the data… or potentially even eliminate the need to deliver such reports, since the HOD could access and summarize this data directly, all by oneself.
How Hierarchically Structured Data allows Slicing and Dicing
BI software uses hierarchically structured data (called “cubes” to indicate 3D data) to make ad-hoc reporting easy enough for non-technical users. Cubes store raw data and give users the ability to quickly twist-and-turn the data to reach the information they seek. Users can configure their data and store it in such a way that they don’t need to use complex tools like SQL Queries every time. In the database, all the data entered through the ERP system is transformed and then maintained in a 3D hierarchical arrangement.
This is where the idea of “slicing and dicing” comes into play. Users can “drill down” into specific cube configurations, allowing them to generate useful customized reports on the exact data they need – and in real time. If a user wanted to see how a specific product performed in terms of revenue generated over a certain period of time, they can easily do so thanks to the cube hierarchy.
Additionally, the BI software is robust enough that users can include data from multiple outside sources, such as Excel spreadsheets or reports that come from machine-specific software, and associate it with the data in the ERP database. As long as this heterogenous data can be seen in terms of a logical relationship, users can combine data that may be otherwise difficult to cross-reference in its separate forms.
When it’s integrated with an ERP platform, BI gives organizations a user-centric visibility into their data that spreadsheets or isolated software systems alone could never achieve.
BI: Something Every Entrepreneur Needs
Needless to say, Business Intelligence software is a much intrinsic need of today’s vibrant business environment and comes so handy to an entrepreneur who needs to keep business decisions synchronized with the constantly changing business dynamics of supply, costs, markets, technology, compliance and other considerations.
One such dependable, integrated and easy-to-use Business Intelligence tool is Lumira that is native to SAP Business One – the largest selling, affordable global standard ERP for Small and Medium Businesses worldwide.