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:

QlikView

SAS

SAP

 

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.