Today’s business world requires that our processes and our technology be flexible, and the several emerging mobile interfaces are Exhibit A for accommodating the on-the-go nature of global corporate culture. And this includes data management and analytics for the SAP Business One customer base. Today, you should have BI tools that meet your company’s needs for flexibility in accessing your transactional and operational data for richer, faster decision-making, whether you are in the office or not. Independent software vendors (ISVs) are answering this call for more flexible BI solutions.
Third party software is accelerating SAP B1 by providing best-of-breed financial report writing, budgeting, data visualizing, and data warehousing. Moreover, modern BI technology is giving the end user choices. I’m sure you have been somewhere other than the office at some point when you need access to company data. Sometimes, it is urgent, too. If you are still working with on-premises BI tools, you understand that it can be confining at times, mainly because data access requires that you be in the office or rely on sometimes shaky remote access applications, like VPN, Citrix, or Terminal Server. You can’t really call this a “solution” for modern, on-the-go business culture. But you do have options for true upgrades.
There are several aspects to consider when shopping for a BI technology upgrade that is flexible enough for your team’s needs now – and in the future. You should first think about if you require real-time analyses with a live integration from SAP B1 or can rely on a BI data store integration, an OLAP cube, a data warehouse, or need both. You should also look at Excel add-in tools that enable business end users with a head start because they can hit the ground running in the familiar Excel interface. Today, a web portal might be the most important upgrades you need because it offers nearly anywhere access while maintain Excel formatting for report design for the power user. Similarly, mobile applications are becoming quite popular due to the access you can have to financial reporting and KPIs wherever you take your mobile devices. You probably should also look at software that is positioned within a comprehensive suite of fully integrated BI solutions to streamline your processes.
You have software options that will either integrate directly from SAP B1 for live reports and dashboards or by using an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or a data warehouse. With flexibility being the buzz word for technology today, do you really want software that only offers you one integration option? Some tools give you the choice to pick which way you want to integrate data for a particular task. If you are working at a smaller company with fewer users and smaller data queries, you likely only need to integrate directly from B1. Organizations that want to avoid a sluggish SAP B1 server, due to larger data queries and/or multiple users simultaneously pulling data, would probably find the high performance of a data store integration to be more beneficial. And don’t forget to think ahead. If you can see that your business is steadily growing with more logistically tedious workflow ahead, you want to invest in software that accommodates that growth. The best software will allow you to rely on a BI data store for certain tasks and run real-time analyses for other purposes.
Flexibility also contributes to my #1 priority in a technology: business user friendliness. Since Excel is nearly ubiquitous, a solution that is driven by the globally popular spreadsheet application invites users to get right to work, compared to proprietary interfaces that have their own set of formulas and formatting that you have most likely never used before. The best Excel-powered report composers and planning solutions enhance the trusted program with sub-ledger analytics and dynamic business and accounting logic for simpler design. There’s plenty more features and functions that you should consider when thinking about the flexibility and ease of use you need from a solution these days.
Premier BI solutions synergize Excel formatting with web and mobile platform access. As the Cloud and the web become more and more popular as technology platforms, BI software has logically followed this trend. Deadlines and analytics don’t pause until you get back to the office, and there are BI solutions that offer data access on the web, some equipped with Excel formatting, empowering you to flexibly move between interfaces. As you evaluate your specific company BI process needs, consider who is already working remotely, who will join them in the future, and who will still be coming to the office every day. Users should be able to access, manage, and analyze financials from anywhere that they have an internet connection, and now, you can achieve that with some ISV tools. Similar can be said about the need for mobile BI applications.
Cloud and web-based BI is for sure the present and foreseeable future, and mobile devices are an extension of that for SAP B1 customers. Let’s face it: we’re basically sleeping with our smartphones, so it makes sense that BI analytics would make it onto our touch screens. With some software, you can get to your financials, KPIs, and reports from anywhere you take your smartphone and tablet. As this is a newer development, not every ISV is offering a mobile application. Another seemingly uncommon offering: a complete suite of fully integrated BI tools.
You might only be in the market to overhaul your GL-exclusive financial reporting method for SAP B1 right now, but looking only at stand-alone report writers would be shortsighted. If you are planning to grow, you should plan to accommodate these development by looking at suites that offer budgeting, dashboards, and/or a BI data store. Should you implement a stand-alone report writer now, you might have to stitch together software from multiple vendors, which means disparate consultants, support teams, and partners. The other option is replacing the stand-alone reporting tool with one that is part of a comprehensive suite. Lots to consider, but Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel and mobile BI tools with both real-time or data warehouse integrated analysis, budgeting and collaboration as a way to accelerate company performance management beyond SAP B1.