What is Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence is a set of various software, applications and practices that collects business information, integrates it and presents it to users after analysing it. It is like a machine that has the capability of not only storing complex data securely, but also analysing it and presenting the results to its users in formats they desire.
An ERP system integrates all departments of a business, collates the data and makes it easier to access. It helps the users in taking the right decisions by providing an accurate overview of the whole business. ERP in itself is a very strong tool that is vital in streamlining processes and resources. However, if armed with powerful Business Intelligence, the capability of an ERP system increases ten-fold and it becomes more dependable.
What difference can Business Intelligence make for a business?
1. Businesses today are moving away from historical reporting and getting more inclined towards forecasting. While ERP, through its integration of all departments, enables users to bring in efficiency in operations, it deals more with providing total control of business to the owners.
On the other hand, Business Intelligence enables users to strategize for the future. With all the data of past and present activities of business, Business Intelligence can provide predictive analyses to users which can be used to plan operations. Thus BI plays a highly important role in overall strategy and future planning.
2. Earlier, when business owners derived data through traditional means, it took a massive amount of time and resources. By the time it got into their hands, the data would have become obsolete, rendering any decision making opportunities wasted.
However, Business Intelligence provides data in real time, that too with highly reliable accuracy. This real time provision of data – if viewed in the context of an era that is rapidly advancing in technology- has become indispensible for business owners to take timely decisions that are based on accurate data rather than mere intuition.
3. The reporting capabilities of BI enabled ERP systems are overwhelming. With BI, users can get a report on any aspect of every operation, that too in a format that they desire. Users can move out of the confines of traditional reporting and manipulate data with ease. In other words, every stakeholder can generate reports based on what they want to look at, and how they want to view it.
4. Lastly, ERP is used more at the operational level where it brings clarity and smoothness in day to day activities of a business. Business Intelligence is used more on the decision making level, where it provides quick, yet deep insights as to where the business stands and where can it be taken to. For any business, both are of great importance and cannot be separated.
The increasing importance of Business Intelligence can be understood by the simple fact that more and more businesses are beginning to prefer it over non-BI enabled ERP systems. For example, Focus 8 (the most recent entrant in the Focus suite of business solutions) saw an increased interest from many business establishments as it is equipped with strong Business Intelligence. Its capabilities in enabling scalability, governance, mobility and standards have made its Business Intelligence even more powerful and effective. Business owners and experts may not want to miss a peek at what an actual BI enabled ERP system looks like.