The Myth of Turn-Key Business Intelligence

So you pay your employees to collect, input, process, correlate, audit and otherwise wrangle the data that drives your business.  You’ve paid a small fortune for a line-of-business application to structure and hold all this data and guide your business processes.  You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in implementing all of this to allow you to improve your business decision-making…, and you still don’t have any clue what’s going on at the end of the day.  Enter BI!  Business intelligence is more than an oxymoron.  When done properly, business intelligence takes all of the data being accumulated by your day-to-day operations and presents you with a distilled view of the trends that are currently impacting your business.

Sounds great, right?  Frankly, it is.  I’ve spent the better part of my career helping small businesses build KPI’s (key performance indicators) that will allow them to see and react to trends in their operations before those trends become detrimental.  So if I offered you a product that will do this for you off the shelf, that could potentially be worth tens of thousands of dollars!  Except what sounds too good to be true…generally isn’t.  Time and again I’ve seen companies invest a lot of money in so-called turn-key business intelligence solutions that purport to allow the average accounting clerk or executive decision maker to “easily” build dashboards that will show them the health of their business at a glance.  What’s missing from that recipe is the “intelligence” to understand your business and how different aspects of your data relate to each other.  If you have access to that intelligence, the software you already own can deliver some very compelling metrics that can be much more valuable.

While there is no magic bullet for BI, the news is not all bad.  All businesses, regardless of industry vertical, have certain commonalities (i.e., AR, AP, general ledger, order processing, inventory).  Therefore all line-of-business applications have certain structural similarities.  By spending a little bit of time with an experienced database engineer, the raw data that you need can be easily at your fingertips.  From there, pivot tables and graphs are within the grasp of most MS Excel users.

If you’d like more information on how you can leverage the benefits of BI without investing a fortune, give us a call and we will be happy to give you an assessment and make a recommendation.