Mobility and Enterprise Software

Whether you are currently evaluating an ERP/CRM solution or looking to modernise and align your current  platforms, mobility will or should be high on your criteria list.

The business drivers include

Higher productivity – of customer facing sales and support staff whilst out of the office

Better response times to customer queries – we expect the same response times of suppliers, wherever they are

Complete information at hand when on the road – if there is any doubt, a customer can order off Amazon and it will arrive at an expected date – you need to at least match that experience

Analyst firm Forrester forecasts that 82 million consumers will own tablets by 2015. That the average smart device owner currently has 30 to 40 apps, and one-third of owners download new apps monthly. These apps are not just small bits of functionality but are increasingly connected to and dependent on a limitless supply of data through wireless technology and the cloud. These Mobile Apps will require significant change within an organisation in order to deliver the high value expected.

The interesting element is that Mobile does not mean phone or email – they are projects already completed. Mobile functionality being envisaged now expects that ERP and CRM projects to be available and complete. The next generation of  Mobility covers:

  • Business Process Management/Automation (BPM projects) – extending out the business process
  • Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) – allowing ‘what-if ‘questions and powerful query
  • Location based services – such as GPS

Just as the web has radically changed some industries and what a successful business model may be, the Mobile worker and device will likely affect the operating models of businesses in the short term before radically reshaping business models.

If you are interested in reading more, download our Mobile CRM Guidebook, or add it as an area in your ERP Checklist.







Future of Business Intelligence [Infographic]

Newer BI tools help predict the future, here’s one vendors attempt to predict its own future.
































Via Domo.

Reporting in ERP – the end of the coffee break

Even though the amount of data we are gathering within our businesses is growing exponentially, some new BI products based on in-memory technology may well see the end of the coffee break – even the lunch break is at risk.

A typical scenario today may be:

I have to run my weekly report, it takes about an hour. I can’t run it during the morning and afternoon as it will slow down the production systems. So I set it up to run at 12.30pm, then I go to lunch ( and cross my fingers that it runs properly).

Sounds familiar?

There is no doubt that data is growing, both in our personal lives and in our business lives. In business, we now have much more data available from our customers, partners and suppliers. However, most of this is data and not information, its inflexible and hard to get the answer to the immediate question at hand.

Current issues with BI, reporting, dashboards and analytical tools are numerous, but here’s a summary:

  1. They are not up to date – many are a day or two behind your current reality
  2. The data you are using is a cut-down version of the real system information – there’s so much that you need to create an abstract view. Using the real data would impact performance too much
  3. Data and storage is expensive – a data warehouse uses lots of disk
  4. Queries are difficult to run and program, and prone to mistakes
  5. Results can be slow – hence a lunch break query run
  6. Presentation is via a pre-set Dashboard – summarising my business but not allowing me to drill down to understand ‘what happened yesterday to product A in region z
  7. Changing a report, or creating a new one takes too much time – the question has ‘left the building’ before the report is finished
  8. Its really hard if you have to pull data from 2 or 3 production systems and then do a report

Here comes the future ( and Solution)

The solution is something called ‘In-memory‘ Business Intelligence. Its a radical new way of doing BI and reporting being pursued by the likes of SAP HANA, SAS and QlikView to name some of the higher profile players. Essentially, what happens is that you take data from a production system and load it up into a series of high performing computers, that have heaps of memory and run the queries there. As computer memory is really fast compared to disk the queries run really quickly and output results immediately.

A number of examples have been given where a 12 hour report may not run in less than an hour or a one our report taking less than a second to output the results.

The other strong point is that the information that you use will not have to be an abstract of the true data. These new In-memory systems are unlikely to impact the production systems, so you can drill down into it asking all your immediate what and why questions. This will change the way that you work with data and the decision making information that will be available to you.

Another key feature of these new systems is that they readily sit in the cloud, where you can rent the computing capacity on an as needs basis.

If this is interesting to you, add it to your ERP Requirements and we’ll add it to the Top 10 ERP Trends soon.

For more reading:





ERP users needs in BI tools

Your users of ERP will be different and so will their needs to reporting and analysis. So when looking for some BI tools you will need a range of different tools. Make sure a vendor can meet all your user needs.

Here is an example:

User Type

They Need

Information User

Reports and Simple Queries

Analysts/Power Users

Complex Queries and Analytical tools

Management/Senior Management

Dashboards and Scorecards


Data Mining

ERP User


Map all your types of users, identify their needs e.g. ERP needs, BI tools for other systems. Make sure that the tools meet the technical needs of the user.

For a comparison of different vendors, download our ERP Checklist to make sure all your BI user needs are met and measured.

Match Business Intelligence (BI) Users and Needs

Your users of ERP will be different and so will their needs to reporting and analysis. So when looking for some BI tools you will need a range of different tools. Make sure a vendor can meet all your user needs.

Here is an example:

User Type They Need
Information User Reports and Simple Queries
Analysts/Power Users Complex Queries and Analytical tools
Management/Senior Management Dashboards and Scorecards
Researcher Data Mining
ERP User Analytics

For a comparison of different vendors, download our ERP Checklist to make sure all your BI user needs are met and measured.


Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 Announced with Unique Industry View

Microsoft has announced this week the new Dynamics AX 2012 product. The next version will be a Cloud application(see announcement details), so for the moment this is the ‘last’ of the on-premise versions.

They are including specific industry capability for manufacturing, distribution, public sector, professional services and retail in the solutions. Most vendors have templates for specific industries but Microsoft has included all of them in the one solution.

“Offering five in one answers a real need that customers have to integrate solutions across industries. It gets organizations up and running faster, saves integration costs, and it supports greater accuracy across the application — meaning users get a single version of the truth.”

This makes some sense as in the following examples given

Manufacturers, for example, often manage their own distribution and sometimes their own direct retail operations. Other companies have segments of their business that operate on a project basis, like services companies.

In addition Microsoft in their announcement have focused on:

  • Improved Business Intelligence embedded in the solution
  • Taking their time to streamline all aspects of the use of the product
  • Reducing effort in coding for adapting and integrating the product with other systems

Add Dynamics AX 2012 to your ERP Checklist or read more about all Dynamics AX articles.

BI importance to the Mid-market

IBM have released a report looking at trends in the mid market.

The summary video is here and a link to the report below.

Paper Link to Global Report. Local reports will be coming out.

Mobile ERP

A mobile workforce with access to information in real-time is key for “At the Coalface” credibility for sales and customer service staff. Here is an example from SAP and their Business One package. It looks at how they integrate with the iPhone and shows in a short demo the sorts of capabilities you may need – such as Business Intelligence and reporting.

BI in ERP – Gartner’s View

As I wrote in an earlier post Trends in BI for ERP there have been many mergers and acquisitions in this product area in recent years. There investments seem to have now paid off with acquiring companies SAP, Oracle and IBM now firmly entrenched in the Leader’s Quadrant.

When buying an ERP(or CRM) you will need to also buy some BI Products. You can either buy from your main system vendor or you can buy via another supplier. MicroStrategy, SAS and to a lesser extent Microsoft provide tools that integrate well with ERP/CRM systems to provide alternatives. New vendors include Tibco’s Sportfire which provide innovative SaaS tools and pricing models (very cheaply until you have lots or users – I have a friend who raves about it!).

Below is the quadrant image. We think that key areas to consider are reporting and collaboration, including reporting, management dashboards, KPI monitoring and sharing to MS Office or Intranets/SharePoint –  add your BI specific needs to our ERP Checklist.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence- January 11

BI Magic Quadrant

Trends in BI for ERP

Business Intelligence or BI is a hotbed for activity in the ERP market at the moment. The key drivers have been market consolidation and a series of new trends.

There have been major rounds of consolidation:

  • SAP buys Business Objects/Crystal Reports,
  • IBM buys SPSS and Cognos,
  • Oracle buys Hyperion

The major standalone vendors is SAS. The ERP vendors have been busily buying into BI vendors to both gather market share and to use the installed base as a wedge into the competitor market s-hare. eg Oracle can attack the SAP base with Hyperion and vice-versa. In addition, most of these tools were vendor agnostic – so they play well on competitor platforms

As for trends, the key ones are:

  1. BI on demand – cloud-based scalable capacity
  2. In memory tools and data
  3. Reporting and dashboards
  4. Analysis and prediction tools
  5. Enterprise Management

ERP and CRM systems are essentially ‘systems of record’. The BI tool-sets essentially can take their data and use them for decision making and action, but today this does not happen in real-time at the pace that the market needs. Hence why BI on-demand is important, as is ‘in memory’ BI – both promise faster results in real-time to the range of ‘what-if’ questions that get asked of managers.

Download our ERP Solutions Guidebook for more information.