Matthew Felzke
Gartner BI Magic Quadrant and Microsoft Power BI

In this article, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence will be discussed in depth through a conversation that sheds some executive light on what it all means.

This past week, Gartner released their Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Business Intelligence (BI) solutions – and it has seemingly set the business world abuzz.  More specifically, Microsoft Power BI showed up in a major way in its first year on the MQ, so people are taking notice, consumers and vendors alike.  I decided that it would probably be helpful to get some perspective on what it means for Microsoft fans, non-Microsoft fans, independent software vendors, and the business world in general.  I sat down with the CEO of Solver EMEA, Johan Magnusson, to discuss Gartner’s BI MQ, and he had a lot to say about the MQ in general and how consumers should interpret the latest edition in order to make the best decisions regarding a BI solution investment.

Let’s talk about Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, the most recent release being focused on Business Intelligence solution providers.  As an independent software vendor (ISV) CEO, why are these important for consumers – and the marketplace?

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Nils Rasmussen
Microsoft BI Stack or Best-of-Breed BI for Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP and SL?

When it comes to selecting a Business Intelligence (BI) solution to get the most out of your Microsoft Dynamics ERP investment, you have four choices:

1) Use the tools that come natively embedded within different Dynamics ERPs
2) Extend or replace the native ERP BI tools with the Microsoft BI stack of tools
3) Implement a best-of-breed third party solution
4) Some combination of the three options above

These options and much of the discussion below would apply for any ERP system, not just the Dynamics (AX, NAV, GP and SL).  This decision has a critical impact on the success of an ERP/BI deployment, and is often not discussed as thoroughly as it should be during the ERP/BI pre-sales process.

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Corey Barak
How to Avoid a Budgeting Grease Fire

Budgeting is a time consuming and complicated process for any company. But when you’re talking about an international, distributed organization, it can be downright apocalyptic: different budgeting models, locally managed spreadsheets, individual differences in background data and calculations. Imagine being the corporate finance manager in charge of gathering, consolidating and deciphering that budget information.

Typically, I’ve found that these types of large, distributed companies could vastly improve their budgeting processes (and save a lot of headaches) if their budgeting solution addressed three key requirements:

1)  Excel-based: It’s the program of choice for any financial professional. And since you’re talking about different managers with different levels of computer and technical experience, Excel covers the bases for everyone.

2)  Retention of legacy data: No one can afford to lose years of valuable budget models and background data, only to start from scratch with a new system. When implementing a new budgeting system, be sure it can address legacy data retention.

3)  Complete version control: While companies want to retain their legacy data, they also need to be able to eliminate the macros and other complexities in the old budget models that led to higher risks of wrong data in the first place. They also need to enable various unique sub-models to comply with localized requirements throughout their business units.

Budgeting solutions like BI360 are simpler, more secure, and much more efficient. Furthermore, they greatly reduce the time involved in the normal budget-planning process. These budgeting solutions offer more visibility into the process as well, giving managers at the regional level better control, collaboration, and insight into the numbers that matter.

Check out more benefits of BI360’s budgeting solution here.

Nils Rasmussen
Solving the Classic Division vs HQ BI conflict with Multi-level Data Warehousing

In most mid-sized and larger organizations with multiple divisions, classic BI tools have never been good at satisfying both local division needs (detailed reporting, local budget models, etc.) as well as corporate HQ needs. In the screenshot below, you can see an interesting methodology where a company can install the BI360 data warehouse (DW) at each division as well as at corporate HQ and then transfer whatever interesting detail/summary they want from the local DWs to the central DW. Historically, this would often not be a feasible model when companies had to build homegrown, custom data warehouses from scratch, because it could get very expensive. With a pre-configured data warehouse like the BI360 DW however, it is very fast and low cost to install it anywhere in the organization where a data mart or data warehouse is needed. There are many other benefits with this multi-level DW architecture, including the ability to then use the same report writer, budgeting and dashboard (like BI360) technology everywhere, thus reducing training cost, license cost and more.

Nils Rasmussen
Solver announces BI360 support for Microsoft Dynamics GP Smartlist

Smartlist is a very popular query tool used by all Microsoft Dynamics GP customers worldwide. It has hundreds of useful SQL Views to allow GP users to filter and retrieve transactions from different tables in the GP database. BI360 now integrates to Smartlist views to provide an almost unlimited number of opportunities for business users to drill down from BI360 financial reports and into GP without having to create their own drill-down queries. For example, a department head can run a Profit & Loss report for his or her department, notice a budget variance on a row (e.g. Office Supplies) and with one click, drill down into the Accounts Payable transaction in GP and retrieve the vendor’s Purchase Order and see each line item on the purchase order. Not only does this provide instant answers to business questions without having to bother accountants and power users,  but it also does not require the user to have any knowledge of the Dynamics GP application, as both the drill down and the resulting view of the underlying transactions all happen from with the BI360 Excel-based report interface. 

For a detailed example of the BI360 integration to Smartlist, please contact Solver and ask for the white paper “Integrating BI360 to a Smartlist view”.

The BI360 Drill To function is available for all BI360 ERP integrations, including Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV, GP, SL, Sage MAS 500 and X3.  and Epicor Prophet 21. This document provides a detailed example of how to integrate a Smartlist SQL view with the powerful Drill To feature in BI360 (version 3.5 and later) for the purpose of setting up a drill down rule that let a user drill down from a Profit & Loss report and all the way into sub-ledger (here: Accounts Payable) transactions in the GP database.