“Business intelligence has, over the years, been the domain of IT as the historical owners of the ERP and other systems, but this is no longer so. Business now drives the demand for BI,” says Adriaan Rossouw, Softworx sales and account management.
BI came into focus in the late 1980s as an umbrella term for making better business decisions, using a fact based support system.
Today, with the increase in volatility and complexity in the business environment, and with revenue under threat, the growth and pace of change requires real time information, which is where BI plays a vital role.
Emphasis on revenue growth is also stressed by Rossouw as the main change in focus of BI from that of cost containment.
“If BI is not implemented timorously, this can seriously hamper the ability to grow, due to the inability to maintain an integrated view of what is happening in the company as well as its trading environment.
"BI has its challenges though,” says Rossouw, but he is confident of solutions. Integration across an average of 10 systems for a complete picture is one.
“BI cuts down on the time spent by professionals gathering and collating data, allowing more opportunity for analysis and forward looking activities.”
The lack of budget, time and experience in mid-sized companies can lead to eventual loss of revenue if BI is put on the backburner. Again, timorously implemented BI can avert crisis and loss within companies.
Rossouw believes the success in a BI implementation rests on quick and easy deployment and the use of fast start templates.
“Also, there is the ability to do waves of improvement rather than one big solution.”
Ease of use via common productivity tools such as Excel, Web and Outlook for delivery of information means no training for end-users. The clincher for BI is that of ease of ongoing maintenance, thereby preventing BI from becoming outdated and useless as a business tool.
The increase in the amount of people requiring access to information from wider and deeper into the organisation on a day to day basis means that "it is no longer sufficient to statistically measure historical performance; companies must proactively and continually manage, and this is the way of BI.”