Business Analysis from a Dashboard

My day starts with a 6 am wake up and the first thing I do is grab my phone to check if there are any mission critical emails. I quickly scan 25 fresh emails from my East Coast clients: one downside of living on the West Coast is being 3 hours behind half the continent. By the time I arrive at the office this number has increased to the point of being overwhelming. Instead of immediately addressing these non-critical emails, I turn to my ERP system to run status reports in preparation for morning status meetings with my team.

As I weave in and out of the various reporting functionalities of my system, collecting various static reports, I can’t help but think there must be a better way. Why can’t this information organize itself and come to me rather than the other way around?

The technology to do this has been around for nearly 20 years, but only recently has it become truly useful. As our phones become as powerful as small laptops and businesses move to cloud computing, a new arena for Business Intelligence (BI) has presented itself.

Instead of having to manually scan through my emails, why not have my BI software scan them for me and report back at a glance which emails require my immediate attention? Instead of having to access my system every morning to view the information I need, why not have a dashboard that comes to me?

Email and ERP systems historically have been incredible tools to gather an analyze data. As the volume of emails and data increases, people are becoming overwhelmed. There is not enough time in each day to properly analyze and compile the data. Organizations need to find new tools to help employees make sense of this new business environment.

Thoughtful creation of dashboards helps summarize and present data in the most useful format for users. A quick glance at the dashboard can quickly show areas that require additional attention. Users can interact with dashboards to drill down to supporting data. It is this ability to view only the relevant data that helps users solve problems without being overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information available.

As anyone who has ever implemented a complex system will attest, it is a lot of work. The cost of implementation includes not just the actual cost of the software but also the internal costs of training staff and generating processes and controls to effectively use the system. This is a major consideration when deciding which BI software to implement.

Ideally, BI software will allow you to utilize the processes and controls you have already developed within your ERP and organization. BI, just like ERP, presents a security risk and as such users should only have access to data appropriate for them. A proper solution should allow you to leverage the work performed during ERP implementation to develop new BI dashboards.

Security and control of data should be the number one consideration when evaluating BI solutions. There are many elegant solutions on the market. It is easy to get drawn in by many of these sleek and sexy products. However, I would argue that security should be considered first. Users should only have access to the same data that they can obtain from your current ERP package. If the BI software is not capable of duplicating these controls with ease it may not be the right solution.

As a business grows its controls and internal procedures become more complex, making it imperative that your BI and ERP have the ability to grow with your organization. BI software has the ability to sift through mountains of data and present them to users in efficient dashboards. This automation of business analysis can help organizations to be successful in this new world of ever increasing volumes of information.

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