One significant challenge facing African manufacturers is inadequate reporting and analysis capabilities. This often results in inefficient decision-making processes due to siloed data, limiting the ability to respond to changing conditions quickly.

By Marius Wessels, manager: professional services at Syspro Africa

In a recent Manufacturing CFO survey, respondents from Africa revealed that their top priority, as well as their most significant risk, was visibility into performance and operations, making Business Intelligence (BI) and customer relationship management (CRM) their top investment priorities for the future.

Fifty-one percent of respondents indicated that a key focus is investing in BI to support better clarity and information transparency across the business for better decision-making. Respondents also show a clear leaning towards investing in ERP to deliver these operational efficiencies.

Increase agility and improve oversight

As a business grows, so does the amount of data. Using this increasing volume of data to understand patterns and trends and make forecasts requires BI software.

Business intelligence refers to the analysis of business information and the information it provides – the assessing and understanding of enterprise data to generate information about operations and strategy by identifying key trends, strengths, and weaknesses.

Without a BI solution, manual data extraction is the most likely route for manufacturers. This process is time-consuming, prone to errors, and likely to lead to delays in using critical information, while competitors who are further into their digitalisation journeys reap the rewards of BI.

The power of ERP with BI

ERP and BI are complementary technologies that work together to enhance the value of business data. By combining ERP and BI systems, businesses can leverage the benefits of both systems and gain complete visibility of the organization. This can help companies to increase their agility, improve oversight, and achieve their goals.

A major benefit of combining ERP and BI is the centralization of data. Corporate data is aggregated into a central repository, providing a single version of truth. Combining these systems avoids the complexities and costs of integrating the complex data structure of an ERP system into a third-party BI solution.

If all the data is in a single database, issues of data quality and governance, data security, and privacy are easier to manage. With an ERP system focusing on manufacturing industries, pre-built dashboards can be used to obtain a faster time to use and value of the BI tools.

An ERP system that includes BI tools creates a powerful synergy that enhances the value of business data and improves decision-making. It is the best solution for creating a complete view of the business and its performance. With all corporate data available in a single repository, everyone can see the same information, which improves organisational transparency.

Gaining a competitive advantage

Manufacturers in Africa understand that harnessing the power of BI will put them in a better position to have tighter control and visibility over their processes. It helps them identify and rectify errors or inefficiencies in existing processes. It also allows them to predict unforeseen challenges and act accordingly – a definite asset in a volatile global marketplace.

Companies need to back their business decisions with sufficient data. Finding the root cause of a problem and knowing where and why delays occur can be useful for supply chain management.

This level of insight into business processes can also improve services. BI gives organizational leaders access to enormous amounts of information to gain valuable insights and make better decisions.

Having a robust business intelligence solution in place empowers leaders to boost their business efficiency, improve overall performance, and increase revenue. Making data available across all departments reduces the waiting times for report requests and increases the productivity of all teams with self-service capabilities. When data is available for everyone in the organization, it helps teams stay informed and make data-driven decisions.

A business intelligence solution provides access to real-time information that reduces the risk of potential errors while preparing critical data reports. Access to real-time data enables leaders to monitor the company’s health, detect and address operational inefficiencies, act on short-term market fluctuations, and boost customer experiences.

While they’re predominantly optimistic about the rebound of the manufacturing sector, as the business landscape grows and evolves on the continent, African manufacturers are looking to digitalisation to deliver cost efficiencies. Investment in BI and ERP technologies will give them greater resilience to weather challenges in uncertain times.