For decades, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has provided organizations with essential integration of information between business functions, allowing for a single repository of data from a variety of applications. ERP serves as the circulatory system for your organization, keeping everything moving and ensuring that every department has access to the data it requires. ERP is also a treasure trove of corporate DNA, storing data that can be used to measure, analyze and improve efficiencies between departments and overall organizational health.
Researchers are discovering that our DNA holds significant clues about medical risks and opportunities, strengths and weaknesses. Increasingly, doctors can use DNA markers to predict disease and help patients implement preventative therapies. Business Intelligence (BI) can do the same thing for a company. BI is a means of unlocking vast stores of data within ERP software and quickly extracting crucial nuggets needed to adapt and improve performance. BI can be used to help business recognize cost-savings opportunities, to discover new paths to growth, and proactively address market shifts.
Any organization with growth expectations should give serious consideration to the value of BI in extracting more from the data within ERP. In an Aberdeen report on the connection between ERP and BI, analysts stated that “ERP can transform data into information but BI tools are required to complete the transformation from information to intelligence.”
SMBs looking for this type of intelligence don’t need a Fortune 500 solution to get meaningful results. There are several BI solutions available, priced for the mid-market. This category of BI tools is easier to learn and use, and produces data in a format that everyone can understand. To deliver value, a BI solution must include these key features:
- Dashboards provide a graphical, at-a-glance view of the most important metrics and can be customized to individual business needs.
- Alerts monitor incoming data for specific conditions and automatically trigger emails or other communications to relevant employees and managers.
- Inquiry Tools for drill down into a specific time period, product line, department, or customer group, to quickly extract essential data.
- Multi-Dimensional Analysis Tools facilitate the import of data from multiple locations and while allowing the user to view the entire organization from a macro level.
- Quick Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) give stakeholders the ability to measure current performance on demand.
- Flexible Reporting Capabilities ensure an organization can create and generate reports that present essential data in a format that is most useful to decision-makers.
- Report Automation allows companies to be proactive in the reporting process, from creation to distribution, making it possible for them to respond quickly and effectively to changes.
The best way to approach the implementation of a results oriented BI tool is to ask the right questions. In an article on CIO.com, Gartner analyst Patrick Meehan suggested that “corporate executives should formulate two or three strategic business questions that need to be answered on a persistent basis and then determine what data must be regularly gathered and analyzed to answer them intelligently.” Well-implemented BI analytics can offer a significant advantage in today’s increasingly competitive business climate. The answers to your organization’s biggest questions are waiting to be discovered within existing ERP systems; let Business Intelligence be your map.