Hanna Kim
Using Corporate Performance Management for Digital Transformation: Optimizing Operations and Transforming Products and Services, Part 2

The blog article is the second entry in the series about using Corporate Performance Management (CPM) for digital transformation.

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Matthew Felzke
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 3

At the end of 2016, we sat down with CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate to discuss 20 impactful years of being a leader in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry. This is the final segment in the series, where the executive team members discuss what differentiates BI360 and what they would like to be known for in 20 years.

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Hanna Kim
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 2

Before the holidays, we sat down with CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate to discuss 20 impactful years of being a leader in the Business Intelligence (BI) industry. This is the second in a series, where the executive team members discuss the future of Solver and BI360 in terms of product innovation, customer and partner relationships, and the organization as a whole.


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Matthew Felzke
Solver Celebrates 20 Years: Executive Interview, Part 1

I recently sat down with the leadership team at Solver to discuss the 20th anniversary of launching the organization.  The following is the first in a series, where they talk about how the organization came about, where they have gone and been, why they launched BI360 and more, as they move toward a cloud deployment option in 2017.  CEO Nils Rasmussen, COO Corey Barak, CIO Hadrian Knotz, and CTO Mike Applegate all chimed in about the successes and challenges that they have faced – and what they are most proud of on this anniversary.

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Vanessa Sierra
Planning Your Thanksgiving Dinner with Business Intelligence!

The week is finally here where we gather around the table and share a delicious Thanksgiving meal with our loved ones. As much as we enjoy the good food, family time, and days off from work, organizing and hosting this special dinner can be a daunting task. Similar to the process of creating effective reports and dashboards that help your business, planning a Thanksgiving dinner requires thorough research and specific BI features that make the process easy and enjoyable for everyone.

This blog will explore the parallels between the process used to plan a Thanksgiving meal in the modern age and the latest in BI tools for Corporate Performance Management (CPM), (i.e. financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and data management).

Feast on The BenefitsLet’s start at the beginning. A few weeks ago, like many of you, I decided to start planning out my Thanksgiving dinner. Knowing that my younger brother has a sweet tooth, but my dad prefers savory entrees and side dishes, I sent out a Google spreadsheet to find out what everyone wanted to eat. Given that we live in different cities, I asked each family member to fill in his or her favorite dishes into the spreadsheet. The results were a little messy to say the least.

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Hanna Kim
Things to be Thankful for in Today’s Business Intelligence Solutions for Not-For-Profit Organizations

In this article, we discuss how business Intelligence (BI) tools have helped not-for-profit organizations focus more on their mission and less on budgeting and reporting.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this article to not-for-profit organizations – organizations with the purpose of something other than making a profit and often focused on furthering a particular social cause – and focus on how business intelligence (BI) tools have made the jobs in their industry easier. In this article, we are going to zoom in on the tools that not-for-profit organizations have expressed they are thankful for, and hopefully, this will give you an idea of what modern BI tools can do for your not-for-profit organization.

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Mike Applegate
Beyond Accessibility: 9 More Reasons why CFOs are Starting to Love Cloud Business Intelligence Tools

Image taken from Shutterstock.

There’s a lot more to cloud–based business intelligence tools than easy data accessibility. This article examines why CFOs and accounting pros see cloud BI as a great return on investment.

Like a lot of productivity and management software, business intelligence (BI) tools are moving to the cloud. Why? Sure, the cloud makes BI more accessible, and deployments more manageable, just like data of every kind. Whether it’s Corporate Performance Management (CPM) or even music, you can access it via any web browser or mobile device, anywhere, anytime.

But there are other reasons why the cloud and business intelligence tools are a perfect match, especially for CFOs or accounting pros who rely on BI to boost bottom-line performance. We’re talking about solving problems such as lowering costs, gaining flexibility, and increasing productivity, all while realizing BI’s promise of delivering the right information to the right people at the right time so they can make more informed decisions.  As Solver builds – and gets ready to deliver BI360 as an innovative cloud service, we continue to discover reasons why cloud is the future for Business Intelligence.

Here are 9 reasons why a cloud-based Business Intelligence Tool may be right for you.

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Hanna Kim
The Next Generation Cloud-based BI Tools

mike_applegate

 

The other day, I met with Solver’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Mike Applegate to talk about the next generation cloud-based tools. I made my way to his office, which is located right next to the kitchen – how convenient, right? His office has multiple brainstorming sessions of project ideas and notes on the white wall to your right when you walk in and simple black photo frames of his two beautiful children propped behind his desk.

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Nils Rasmussen
Top Reasons Why Most Companies Are Far From Business Intelligence Nirvana


What happened to the vision of the easy, self-service, one-stop shop business intelligence (BI) capabilities that countless companies across the world have been seeking? After years of investing in new ERP systems, including cloud-based solutions, home-grown data warehouses and even sexy, new dashboard tools, the vast majority of companies are far from BI Nirvana.

The sad truth is that most organizations I talk to have 5 to 7 different reporting tools between their ERP solution, CRM, Payroll, Web site data and other systems. It does not make it better that more than 90% of them do all- or a majority of their budgeting and forecasting processes in manual Excel sheets. Oh, and then the sales team or certain other departments have sometimes implemented an analytics tool to provide them with dashboards and easy ad-hoc analysis. This will often fix short term pain, but it will not take you to BI Nirvana. In some organizations, the IT department has spent a year or more to build a so-called “enterprise data warehouse”, often with only some of their data sources included, such as General Ledger data and Sales data, and most of the time with IT-dependent report writers, OLAP cubes or pivot tables as the only means of reporting on the data.

companiesfarfrombinirvanaSo, what is the status of companies’ BI capabilities as of today? The bad news is that it is far from the BI Nirvana that managers have been dreaming about for years now after watching slick demos from one BI software vendor after another. But, the good news is that things are getting better. You only need to step back and compare your BI capabilities today with what they may have been in 2005, 1995 or, if you were even around in….1985. Chances are that your information workers now have more and better reporting tools available to them. Of course, today you have more data sources than ever, and market dynamics change faster than at any time in history. So, somewhere along the way, business users took matters into their own hands and the result was that…..Excel became the world’s most popular report writer and budgeting solution. But, although Excel is quite user friendly, extremely flexible and familiar to almost every business user on the planet, it was never meant to be an enterprise-wide BI tool. So, how do one get to this utopian place called BI Nirvana? You might need “a little help from my friends” as Joe Cocker sang in his popular rendition of the original Beatles song. In other words, do your homework, talk to your friends both inside and outside your company and educate yourself. Although every organization should stake out their own BI journey based on their needs, available data sources, internal talent, platform strategies (i.e. database type, cloud versus on premise, etc.) and more, a few things seem to fall into a common formula for BI success:

1) Strive for a single BI solution that covers all or most of these: Reporting (financial and operational), budgeting and forecasting, dashboards/analysis and data warehousing. If some key functionality is not covered by the BI suite you select, then make sure it integrates directly with a powerful 3rd party add-on for whatever functionality is missing in the suite. The last thing you need are more reporting tools in your company….so make sure the BI suite eliminates or reduces the need for your other tools.

2) Don’t ignore the power, flexibility and familiarity of Excel. But it should not be a manual Excel model, it should be an Excel add-in that allows you to build reports and input forms that dynamically retrieves and even saves data to a database. Oh, and it should be web-enabled or be able to convert the Excel templates to dynamic, browser-based templates for easy end-user access.

3) Repeat after me: “I promise not to implement more proprietary BI tools with unfamiliar user interfaces and that also may require all my end users to install client software or use Terminal Server or Citrix to access a remote desktop”. Using cloud, hosted or on premise architecture is not the most critical question. What you need to empower your growing number of end users that are seeking BI Nirvana is a single, self-service, web-based BI portal where each user can run reports and drill down to answer their questions without bothering IT or the accounting department, they can enter their budgets and they can discover trends and answer Who? Where? What? questions in interactive dashboards.

4) Finally, and this is a no-brainer….your BI capabilities are only as good as the data available in your BI suite. So, if you don’t have a well-functioning data warehouse yet to give you that sought-after, single version of the truth, start planning for one. You are going to need it if you want to get to BI Nirvana. It is an exciting road ahead for organizations seeking a competitive edge through BI excellence, even if you meet a few bumps along the way. Vendors like Solver with its BI360 solution as well as several other software providers with modern BI suites are continuously investing to help companies’ BI visions come true. Good luck on your journey!

Hanna Kim
BI360 Focus 16 Conference Recap

solver_awards_2016-045Solver Global came together at one location last week to host its annual Focus customer and partner conference at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines hotel in sunny San Diego, California. Solver kicked off the conference with two-day intensive training classes designed for beginning and advanced users. There were valuable information-sharing sessions that attendees came to expect with additional learning and networking opportunities, including a dynamic keynote speaker.   Continue reading