Business Intelligence – Value Added Reporting Technology
Business Intelligence (BI) is the catch all term used to describe technologies that are used to access, analyse and report on data relevant to an enterprises performance. It encompasses a wide spectrum of software products, including:
- On-line analytical processing (OLAP) platforms.
BI Underpinned by CPM
One can see then, that there is some overlap in goals and technologies between CPM and BI and these similarities have led many analysts to suggest that a BI platform is a pre-requisite for CPM. BI, however, is not just about technology. It involves the processes, methodologies, metrics and technology (applications and software tools) used to monitor, measure and manage a business. These business processes may include elements such as financial, marketing, sales, customer relationship management and supply chain management.
A blank canvas approach
Starting with a blank canvas, an organisation might put the business intelligence platform in place and then construct each core business process on this foundation, using it to seamlessly and efficiently deliver information to the internal business community. However, few businesses have the luxury of this approach. A more effective method is to select an integrated CPM suite that incorporates a BI platform, select a specific business planning process and then complete a small-scale focused implementation based around it. This simultaneously allows the business to build upon a firm foundation of early success and to recognise a return on its investment.
Realising major business advantages
As a result of implementing core CPM processes like Planning, Budgeting, Forecasting and Financial Consolidation on top of a BI framework, organisations realise key business value advantages, such as:
- Simple cost avoidance, such as saving on the labour, printing and distribution of reports.
- Major competitive advantage, such as recognising best-selling items fast enough to respond to customer demands so as to avoid out-of-stock conditions.
- Consolidating query, reporting, analysis and analytic applications so as to enhance efficiencies - e.g. eliminating custom development and manual maintenance of Excel spreadsheets and reducing data consolidation efforts.
- Leveraging important and valuable data currently being captured by ERP, CRM, SCM and other systems, where such data is locked into these systems due to inadequate or difficult mining/reporting tools.
- Creating powerful dashboard applications for various user groups to help gain visibility into key performance indicators. These tools help correlate the cause-and-effect relationship between metrics, so action can quickly be taken to resolve a business process issue, reduce costs or increase revenue.
- Empowering users to create, manage and distribute their own standard, ad hoc and multi-dimensional reports and content, saving time on current report development and maintenance.
- Improving velocity of reporting and visibility, reducing report time from weeks to minutes, such as real-time visibility into the impact of pricing and promotional strategies on corporate profitability or creating compliance reports quickly in order to meet audit demands.
- Uncovering business issues, mistakes or fraud more easily, such as recognising unusual business purchases or unusual sales bookings.
Business Intelligence - Saving money and time
Business Intelligence can provide low-cost, easy-to-use tools that require minimal or no training, whilst enabling collaborative sharing among knowledge workers. Consequently, adoption rates for this type of technology are high and training costs associated with it are low. All of this means that organisations that make use of business intelligence solutions are able to ensure that their management teams make better decisions on a regular basis, transforming one of the business's biggest assets, the data it gathers, into a resource that positively impacts the bottom line.