Ever since business intelligence (BI) grew out of the decision support systems (DSS), they have been separate from transactional systems like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Data may be pulled from ERP into a data warehouse or data mart. For large scale BI processes, this is still a common practice. These can be complex and expensive projects, and some figures suggest 70 percent of the time they fail to meet expectations.
But another approach to BI has been developing quietly, under the radar. BI built into ERP. Dashboards, cockpits and other visualization features put real-time information into the hands of everyday decision-makers.
The concept is remarkably simple, and the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. Sure — sometimes the suits up there in the C suite require overarching business data that may need to be pulled from multiple systems into a data warehouse for analysis. But line managers and individual employees also need up-to-date information to perform their jobs. And in the right circumstance, data for overarching BI initiatives may be available largely from within a single ERP suite. So many day-to-day and big business decisions can be made based on data sourced from, and presented directly in, ERP. Supply chain risk, asset serviceability, performance against KPIs … all can be presented directly in the enterprise platform where the data naturally resides.
So ERP vendors including IFS have more and more sought to augment their BI offerings with built-in and configurable dashboards to inform business decisions throughout the enterprise. According to a recent study completed by IFS and Advantage Business Media, the very largest of companies have the best access at this juncture to built-in BI.
According to the study:
Combining historical warehouse data with real-time operational data offers the ability to gather analytics that are in-context with the decisions you need to make, at the time you need to make them. When this capability is easily accessible to users on an as-needed basis, it is much more useful to the bottom line. IFS suggests that this process is most accessible to the user when the BI tool is built-in to a single-sign-on ERP application.
The IFS survey found:
- Most manufacturers (76 percent) are either not set up for, or are not using, in-context analytics.
- Only a minority (24 percent) of respondents have their BI functionality built-in to their ERP system.
IFS expanded its BI built in strategy in 2011, augmenting this with expanded traditional BI offerings in 2013. Newer capabilities include the IFS Manufacturing Visualizer, which can be configured to deliver real-time analytics to the planning function. This is in addition to, among other offerings, the IFS Corporate Performance Management (CPM), which consolidates transactional streams in real time so senior management can keep their fingers on the vital pulse of the enterprise.
So what is the role of business intelligence in your organization? What are your future plans to improve visibility within your business? And what role does ERP play as a primary vehicle for delivering BI?