An Evolutionary Analysis of Business Intelligence and Enterprise Resource Planning

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has redefined how corporations deal with just about all their business processes with what used to be independent, non-communicating silos, such as:

● Accounting and financials

● Supply chain

● Operations

● Commerce

● Reporting manufacturing

● Human resources

Over time, they’ve been united through the evolution of ERP. This integration has resulted in immense improvements in efficiencies and reporting. The connecting of processes and data has allowed more visibility and flexibility among employees and departments. Quicker, more efficient decision-making subsequently delivers more value. However, even the best ERP software comes with limitations; it certainly can collect voluminous amounts of data across departments and processes, but sometimes, the capture is where it ends.

BI Comes into the Picture

Business Intelligence takes the accumulation of all that data and reporting to the next level. BI enhances the analytical capabilities of the ERP data integration, transforming the enterprise data into more easily understandable reporting, which can in turn be transformed into actionable new strategies and initiatives. Some of the powerful improvements BI can deliver to an ERP system include:

Saved Search Limitations – often analysis outputs can be hampered by the need for multiple saved searches, which in turn can create significant limits to consolidation. Even processing timeouts can occur with large, complex datasets. A BI interface can solve these bottlenecks, creating effective usable reporting out of mountains of data and searches.

Data Visualization – quite often, even with an ERP system in place, many organizations have limits in the area of data visualization. A BI interface can provide more options that allow for greatly enhanced reporting, where these limitations were previously an issue.

A match made in heaven for data management

ERP itself has gone through an evolution since first introduced decades ago in the manufacturing sector as Material Requirements Planning (MRP). Through the years, improvements were made, the major one coming in the late 90s, with NetSuite’s introduction of Cloud ERP.  With this game-changing development, the limitations of on-premises systems rapidly became a thing of the past. Suddenly, smaller companies could implement ERP systems that were previously cost-prohibitive in the on-premises era, due to the high expense of both equipment and human (IT) resources.

Now, ERP has been united with developments such as ecommerce modules, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and Supply Chain and Human Resources Management (SCM and HRM) systems. BI has become the lynchpin, providing solutions in the neverending quest for more leverage, through enhanced analysis capability. 

Small and medium-sized organizations are now in a position to take advantage of advancements in their data management and analysis that were, as noted earlier, way out of reach economically. In the case of NetSuite, specifically targeted to this size of the company,  GURUS, a NetSuite partner, has developed their own custom BI solution for ERP

As technology continues to evolve, often at a break-neck pace, there are likely still game-changing developments to come in the field of data management, processing, and analysis. As of right now, though, BI is taking traditional ERP capability and supercharging it.

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