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Cloud Business Intelligence Made Easy In 5 Steps!

Cloud Business Intelligence Made Easy In 5 Steps!

Cloud_Business_Intelligence.jpg5 Steps to Getting Started with Cloud Business Intelligence

Cloud business applications have become major topics of conversation in the information technology world, such as Cloud ERP, CRM and Business Intelligence. The reason for all the hype is because moving to the cloud is a great way to optimize your business and positively impact your bottom line. This article discusses the simplicity, accessibility and value around Cloud Business Intelligence. 

In a nutshell, Cloud Business Intelligence (BI) allows your company to analyze your cloud ERP and other raw data in a way that makes it useful and meaningful for business decision making.  It transforms your cloud ERP and other data into small packets, called Data Marts that give you the ability to define and view the data the way you need it.  This allows you to interpret the data, make decisions, respond and take action on the best course to take next.  Lucky for us, Microsoft has been delivering BI to their small to mid-size customers since late 2011 and early 2012. Did you know that the most predominant tool used for BI is the in depth development of Excel and the Excel “Power Tools” consisting of Excel’s Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View and Power Map and most powerfully in the Office365 cloud offering. To add to that suite, last year Microsoft released their new PowerBI product.  Built with Excel functionality inside, provides ease of use and connectivity to all the office 365 products, as well as, numerous cloud offerings.  To that point, there are direct links from PowerBI to what they call content packs, such as Google Analytics, Mail Chimp, Marketo just to name a few, as well as Cloud ERP platforms such as Acumatica. This makes it is possible to access raw data from a multiple sources, define and combine data to present it for decision making.

Here is one scenario: Let’s say you run a retail wine business and your goal is to find out what economy influences drive your sales volume, pricing and create expected future forecast.  This is exactly what PowerBI was built for! With the ability to access information from a variety of data sources, you can run an analysis of your sales and pricing data for the last 24 months to determine if there’s any correlation.  In our example we’re going to say we did this and found that gasoline prices directly affect your sales volume and the prices you can charge for your products. So, now what do you do? You can use the data with PowerBI and or the Excel Power Tools to create both historical trends and graphics as well as predictive graphics and KPIs (key performance indicators) to help keep your finger on the pulse of your business and make decisions based on what the system is forecasting and recommending you do.

5 Steps for Cloud Business Intelligence Success:

1. Define the data and KPIs:  Start with the end in mind by determining what data you need from your ERP to get to your final results.  This will help supply you and your team with important decision making statistic.  You can use Excel to define your reports, graphs and KPI’s to keep you on track.
2. Accessing the data from your systems:  If you are already on an ERP system that is has a content pack or need data from some of the systems that provide this service, you are already half way there.  If these aren’t already available to you through your current system, worry not.  On most systems that on current releases you can get what is called an “Odata” feed which allows the data to flow to Excel and from there to other packages as well for BI.
3. Choose your BI tool(s):  Many of these offerings, such as the ones mentioned above, will get you where you need to be.  There are many to choose, from powerful and complex to simpler and less expensive.  Whichever is chosen, make sure that it can provide the resulting output you designed in step one above.
4. A knowledgeable resource to help create your results: This can be done by you, members of your staff, consultants familiar with the process and for the more powerful output..  Most of the available systems have beginning, intermediate and professional levels to them, so getting started is not usually a steep learning curve.  In addition, there are a lot of books, videos and other resources available to you.
5. Analysis, Accuracy and Adoption:  The most important part at this point is ensure the data you are analyzing is accurate.   None of this will be of any value unless your team has the discipline and guidance to make sure that the raw data is correct that the output is accurate, and that the resulting output is properly acted upon.  If this is not done, then you’ve spent quite a bit of time and resources on lots of pretty graphs and reports, but to no avail. Once your BI is in place, it is a constant requirement to watch, monitor and learn.  Quick action when a part of your operations starts to veer off in the wrong direction allows you to keep on course and prevent problems, or at least minimize their impact, before things get out of hand.  It needs to become a habit just as marketing is a required habit in order to bring in a continuous stream of good leads.
The power of the results and what you can do with them is unlimited! Strong business intelligence is extremely valuable to run a business and keep it on track.  One thing is for sure - your competition will be using business intelligence to its greatest benefit. BI is also something that does not need to cost a large amount to implement.  For a small investment in money and time, this tool could be a part of your repertoire and providing important value to you. For many of our clients, most of the BI is built into the software solution that we provide them in Acumatica, and it is part of our standard implementation package.
Acumatica ERP is a full service ERP package for the middle market, complete with just about everything anyone running a mid-sized company would want or need. From core financial modules to distribution, manufacturing, project accounting and CRM, everything is built in from the ground up and works together to make your business hum. Our company, Cortekx HGL, Inc. ( is an Acumatica partner, as well as a Microsoft and Sage partner. We have been providing quality ERP systems since 1995 and done enough implementations to understand the benefits and value a complete system like Acumatica can bring to your company's bottom line.
Want to learn more about Acumatica? Contact us at 818-593-4777 ext. 211 and I will be happy to help.  Or just find us on the web. Talk to you soon!

Cliff Hall,
President, CEO
Cortekx HGL, Inc.

Another version of this blog was previously posted on February 22, 2016. 5 Steps To Business Intelligence In The Cloud, Made Easy!

Photo courtesy of by Pakorn

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