The Intersection of ERP and BI

We found a great article today from Paul Yarwood of Hubble on CIOReview discussing how businesses are leveraging Corporate Performance Management (CPM) with ERP to gain new insights to better manage their businesses.

The article makes some great points about how business intelligence and analytics products are making sense of the massive amounts of data we tend to keep buried in the bowels of our ERP systems.

We agree partially with Yarwood’s assertions that ERP has failed to deliver the intelligence that businesses expect. While it is true that most ERP systems natively offer somewhat limited BI capabilities, the fact is that most mainstream ERP providers have significantly bolstered the reporting and analytical side of their applications in the past 5-10 years by bridging the gap with BI acquisitions, third party products, and private-label agreements.

Case in point is Sage which offers Sage Intelligence (acquired from Alchemex) and Sage Enterprise Intelligence (private-label from Tangerine Software) – two great products that are available as optional modules that work seamlessly with their various ERP applications like Sage 100, Sage 500, and Sage X3. Further, there are many great third party products available including Solver’s BI360 and BizNet BizInsights which are sold as options to Sage and other popular ERP systems such as Epicor, Microsoft Dynamics, and pretty much any other product out there on the market.

Most of the tier one players like Oracle and SAP have excellent embedded BI and analytics modules but still, companies that need even more oomph often invest heavily in specialized applications like IBM’s Cognos product at the higher end of the market.

We’ve been selling ERP since the early 1990s and there is no doubt that midmarket ERP vendors have focused a lot of effort on BI within their core products but they can’t do everything as well as a company that specializes in one particular area. That’s why there are still many excellent niche solution players on the market for Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), and yes – Business Intelligence (BI).

Here’s our take on the BI Analytics market – you have a lot of choices. Your ERP vendor most-likely has some great tools available – some free and some that are available for an extra fee. And most of these product will provide a lot more insight into your data. But if you want a truly best-in-class BI tool you may need to look at a third party product depending on which ERP product you use. That’s why we added Solver’s product to our portfolio this past year.

Solver BI360 business intelligence and analytics software. Solver BI360 business intelligence and analytics.

One other benefit to a third party BI product is that most are easier to use across disparate databases and applications. For example, Solver BI360’s data warehouse is a great choice for companies that need to connect data in their ERP system with data in their HRMS, CRM, or other packaged or homegrown business applications. And that’s certainly the case for most midmarket and enterprise manufacturing businesses who rely on a host of best in class business applications.

Need more help getting data out of your business applications? Contact us and we’ll help you make sense of your options.

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