Business intelligence can multiply the power of your data when you have multiple databases (and who doesn’t?). Suppose your company has five separate reporting units. Further suppose 3 of those units use Microsoft Dynamics GP, one uses Microsoft Dynamics SL, and one uses a non-Microsoft ERP. Plus 4 of them have CRM systems and all of them have various operating applications and departmental systems, like a retail point-of-sale system, a hotel management application, and a commissions system. And finally, some departments in some of the business units maintain their own complex Excel spreadsheets that house years’ worth of incredibly important data found nowhere else in the organization.
Sure, you can produce reports from each one of these systems and show them side-by-side. But how do you look at data from one system compared to data in another? How do you look at consolidated trends and anomalies? How do you know exactly where you stand on a company-wide basis?
Enter business intelligence.
Here are 7 ways BIO business intelligence will leverage the data stored in multiple databases around your organization:
- Data quality—Use business intelligence to analyze the data itself. Look at ranges and look for outliers. Look at trends and look for anomalies. Look for null sets that will throw off calculations like averages. Look for data that is not allocated to any department or project. Look for data that is not formatted correctly. A regular check-up on the health of your data will ensure your consolidated data yields meaningful information about your organization.
- Data consistency—One of the most often touted benefits of using business intelligence with multiple data sources is that once the data is in your BI platform it will be consistent—consistent nomenclature, consistent calculations, consistent hierarchies, and consistent charts of accounts. This is one of the most important steps to understanding your business as a whole.
- Individual and consolidated reporting and analysis—One of our clients told us the biggest benefit she derived from using business intelligence is the ability to look at combined data, click her mouse, and then look at the data from individual operating units a second or two later in the exact same format. If she does an ad hoc analysis, she can see what impact an event had on one unit and the company as a whole. This enabled the company to determine that one particular change they made, while producing a sizable increase for the operating unit, was actually decreasing the net margin for the company as a whole.
- Analysis combining financial and operational data—If you want a full picture of all aspects of a particular function, you need to combine all of the data you have about that aspect. A 360-degree customer analysis includes not just revenue and cost of goods or materials, but returns, commissions, and direct T&E as well. You’ll want to know how many marketing campaigns it took to engage this customer and if they are paying their bills. You want to know how many hours your support people are spending supporting this customer. You’ll want to know if they have back-orders and if they reject work provided. If these items are not broken down by customer in your ERP, getting them from other detailed databases or transaction-level detail and having the data ready for analysis and attribute comparison by even non-technical people is paramount to an understanding of customer profitability.
- Security—If reporting and analysis of consolidated data is done primarily on the business intelligence platform, fewer people will be accessing your source databases, keeping the data that much freer from accidental deletions or overwrites. Plus you’ll be able to permit fewer people access to the source data will still allowing them to use the data they need. BIO has role-based security inside of the BI platform so everyone sees what and only he or she is supposed to see. You’ll be able to maintain the security for users in just one place.
- Performance—It is possible to develop SQL reports that pull directly from your source databases. These reports will be static and run on a scheduled basis, usually at night so they don’t impact the transactional systems during business hours. Any changes should be made by someone on the IT team through a revision process and documented. But more important, these reports would be a performance drag on the transactional systems the access. And the time it takes to produce the reports would be impacted by the activity on the source applications. Using a BI platform for reporting and analysis yields instant results and does not impact performance on the source applications. And you can keep changes to the reports and creation of new reports out of the IT department, boosting performance in both the user and IT groups.
- Increase your bottom line—Using consolidated data on a business intelligence platform will increase your bottom line—partly because your employees will be more efficient but more importantly because your will have greater insight into your business, insights that just would not be possible using the data separately.
Join BIO for a free business intelligence webinar to get to see how BIO business intelligence software can help you create consolidated insights in your organization. And please contact me at 203.705.4648 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about BIO or business intelligence in general.
By Sandi Richards Forman of BIO Analytics Corp., Microsoft Dynamics Business Intelligence (BI) Solution Provider