Why are Business Intelligence systems actually referred to as Business Intelligence systems, and not as Business Intelligence applications? In our view, this is a question that isn’t asked as often as it ought to be.
The answer? More than ever, Business Intelligence systems are exactly that: systems, pulling together data from multiple applications and multiple data sources, and outputting analytics and executive dashboards to multiple devices and users.
Which matters, because those multiple data sources and applications very much comprise the real-life IT landscape that many of today’s businesses must address.
Yes, these businesses have ERP systems—but their Business Intelligence needs, and therefore their Business Intelligence systems, must consequently deal with data sources that go far beyond the boundaries of ERP. And therefore must bring back that data to a central point, integrate it with ERP data, and then provide the actionable insights and executive dashboards that the business needs.
Try doing that with a spreadsheet, and you’ll fall flat on your face. So let’s look at a few scenarios where only Business Intelligence systems will deliver this functionality.
Business Intelligence systems and niche non-ERP data
All the major ERP vendors like to pretend that their solutions are a ‘one stop shop’. But for most businesses, that isn’t the case. It’s not too difficult to find instances where the best way to deliver a particular niche capability is to use a specialist ‘best of breed’ application.
Consider a manufacturer or distributor with a standard ERP solution from one of the major providers, but needing niche capabilities in—say—vehicle routing optimisation, load planning, and perhaps field service. And therefore having niche applications that perform these tasks.
In such a scenario, it’s perfectly reasonable for the company in question to have business intelligence needs in terms of such things as identifying customer cost-to-serve, customer profitability, and geographic optimisation.
But a spreadsheet can’t pull data together from these multiple data sources, and an ERP vendor’s own analytics solution, if it exists, will be geared towards its own ERP system.
Yet a Business Intelligence system can do it, and in a very straightforward manner.
Business Intelligence systems and third-party data sources
Now let’s complicate life a little.
Let’s pull in data from third party data sources—a cloud-based travel-time database, for instance, and some marketing databases providing market segmentation and profiling based on customer postcodes. And maybe data from a credit rating agency as well.
If a spreadsheet or simple analytics tool couldn’t cope with the fist scenario, it certainly won’t be able to handle data integration on this scale.
But a Business Intelligence system can.
Business Intelligence systems and trading partners
Finally, let’s throw in some more complications—data from customer systems, and perhaps supplier systems as well. And again, such a scenario is entirely plausible and reasonable.
But ‘plausible’ and ‘reasonable’ aren’t the same as ‘feasible’ and ‘readily achievable’.
And guess what? As before, simple analytics approaches can’t deliver. Not only do they lack the data integration capabilities needed at this level, but they also lack the required analytics power.
Needless to say, though, Business Intelligence systems do have the required capabilities and analytics power.
Business Intelligence systems: the bottom line
So there we have it. Three scenarios—none of them outlandish or implausible—where perfectly reasonable analytics requirements can only be met by Business Intelligence systems.
In short, spreadsheets and simple analytics tools have their place, but not in scenarios such as these.
So if your analytics requirements mirror the scenarios above, then we may have news for you: a Business Intelligence system lies in your future.
If your interested in knowing more about Business Intelligence systems then download our handy E-Book below.