In the last number of years, there has been a growing buzz around the adoption of Business Intelligence (BI) and an organization’s level of maturity (for even the smallest businesses) living in the new Data Economy.

For the first time in history, companies are starting to discover how to monetize their data with minimal overhead. The meteoric rise of XaaS and Cloud economies going mainstream, has resulted in a new paradigm for all businesses large and small to focus on the incredible access to data driving the decisions of industry leaders. In 10 years, “Data interactions went up by 5000% between 2010 and 2020 (Source: Forbes).” This phenomenal growth has driven businesses to move towards consolidated enterprise systems where mission-critical data can be easily accessed, managed and refined to respond to market changes.

Business Intelligence and ERP are no longer unreachable acronyms only for the business elite. Not only are these systems both affordable and designed for today’s everyday business, BI and ERP are necessary solutions to grow a business in a climate where data rules the roost. Not so long ago BI and ERP implementation projects followed a waterfall approach typically chained to a 5 year plan. In today’s new data economy, organizations need to take an Agile approach ensuring their teams can keep up and pivot with shifting priorities and trends, that in many cases, occur daily! As businesses of all sizes jump on the ERP bandwagon at exponential rates, a more integrated BI strategy has become part and parcel of the ERP vision in an organization’s digital transformation journey.

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BI Awareness: When Knowing is Half the Battle


Building a successful Business Intelligence (BI) strategy in an organization begins with business introspection. Prior to considering a BI solution, organizations should examine the following two steps for self-assessment:

Establish BI Maturity Fit

Understanding where your organization fits within the BI maturity spectrum will allow your stakeholders to effectively plan a strong business case and road map in line with your current ERP infrastructure. In fact, TDWI (the leading BI and Data Warehouse Research Group) recommends evaluating an organization's level of maturity prior to laying out a BI strategy through it’s renowned BI Maturity and Assessment Model that outlines the potential BI journey data-centric companies need to consider:

Gauge Cultural Maturity

Whether your organization has very basic BI processes and tools in place (such as seen with Prenatal and Infant stages) or more developed systems and processes (as with Child and Teenager stages), strong technology and processes are not enough to be successful in today’s fast-paced data economy. In fact, the strongest BI strategies that lead to Adult and Sage stages incorporate a cultural element to their approach. TDWI thought leaders talk about the “Chasm” businesses face in BI adoption - namely integrating and ingraining Business Intelligence into the business culture of a company. Consequently, companies that have a culture that live and die by their data at hand are best suited to adopt a BI initiative where data governance, data warehousing and consolidated analytics are critical to business decision making and growth.

Today’s Data Economy has forced many successful organizations to combine the power of human talent with improved data science to remain competitive. The fact is, the hypergrowth of cloud technologies impacting vendors and consumers have created a new level of depth in captured data that simply cannot be ignored. From lead generation to customer buying habits, BI is no longer an afterthought to an ERP project. Today’s successful organizations recognize early on in their ERP journey that Business Intelligence needs to be core to their digital transformation. However, since technology will typically outpace an organization's cultural growth, ERP newcomers need to carefully assess their maturity and plan accordingly.

Ask the Right Questions


Once BI readiness is established, an organization needs to carefully plan a strategy in line with its varying needs. As a best practice, an organization's thoughtful self-assessment should consider the following two areas of Business Intelligence:

Operational Analytics

Tactical and process-driven analysis are best suited to occur within the ERP reporting tool set to optimize real-time response and decision making. For example, tracking frequently moving current stock levels and transactions require a close proximity to the source data to achieve operational efficiency.

Strategic Analytics

Strategic decisions that may require cross-referencing multiple data sources for deeper analysis, such as forecasting, can deliver better results with a BI solution that will incorporate data governance, data warehousing and tailored dashboards necessary for “Big Picture” analytics.

In this vein, here are some of the questions an organization's needs to explore prior to embarking on their Business Intelligence journey:

Are the reporting and analytics challenges limited to a few use cases? Or are the problems more pervasive across the company?

Does the current ERP system house most of your reporting data? Or does it need to mine other systems and data sets?

Who are the primary stakeholders? Is it Operations? The Executive Team? Both?

Is the team addressing time-sensitive operational reporting? Or more “Big Picture” forecasting insights? And what is the strategic nature of this information?

What is the volume of data that needs to be mined?

Is reporting primarily for internal purposes? Or does the information need to be shared and collaborated with external partners and customers?

The key message here is to ask questions that will reveal the value Business Intelligence can deliver to your organization and align the business goals with the best fit solution that will grow with its changing needs.

BI for the NetSuite Newcomer

For the new NetSuite ERP customer, they are fortunate to have access to multiple reporting and analytic tools from day one. Users can benefit from the 300+ reports out of the box to address the typical financial KPIs and metrics critical to any business. Along with these reports, NetSuite provides powerful capabilities with the ubiquitous Saved Searches and robust Workbooks allowing for easily customizable reports aimed at operational activities. Moreover, Netsuite’s SuiteSuccess offering allows customers to leverage pre-built dashboards and reports tailored to their industry. Although NetSuite delivers superior reporting capabilities than its competitors, like any ERP system, these reporting tools are aimed at optimizing the operational decisions that are needed to run a business. As a result, deeper exploratory data analysis across the business and strategic analytics will typically occur outside the four walls of the ERP system.

As a Solution Partner for NetSuite, we are continually faced with the challenge of assisting our clients navigate the limitations of ERP reporting. At one time, defaulting to ‘scripted’ solutions was the ideal path to attempt to keep all reporting and analytics inside the same platform. As companies have begun to shift their energies to a more data-centric paradigm, businesses are seeking solutions that can better adapt to consolidating data across all systems. For the NetSuite customer, this means planning for a more integrated business intelligence strategy early on that incorporates their NetSuite ERP data along with mission-critical data sets gleaned from other external sources.

To learn more about how you can benefit from a comprehensive business intelligence solution tailored for the NetSuite customer, contact GURUS Solutions today.

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About Neil Stolovitsky

Neil Stolovitsky has over 20 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in Pre-Sales, Business Development, Product Marketing, Software Selection, and Channel Strategies. He has published numerous blogs, white papers and articles covering Business Intelligence, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Product Manager with GURUS Solutions.