Why are good business intelligence tools so hard to find?
Good business intelligence tools may be hard to find, but they have increasingly become a "have-to-find" as CFOs are tasked with not only financial reporting, but also using data to drive value across the enterprise.
What makes so many of the business intelligence tools available in today's marketplace less than ideal? More importantly, how can you find the right BI solution for your business?
What's the problem with today's business intelligence tools?
BI tools can be purchased on their own, separately from accounting or ERP systems, but there are a few fundamental issues with this option.
The cost of business intelligence software can range from a few hundred dollars per month to several thousand, depending on how many users you need, according to Software Connect.
Such a cost may not be feasible for a small- to medium-sized business, even if you’re using the software to its fullest capacity. But when you take into account Software Connect's assertion that most users of BI tools – 70% – would only be considered "casual" or "standard," the expense becomes even more difficult to defend.
Since the concept of business intelligence is to aggregate data from many sources throughout your organization, any solution will be useless if it doesn't integrate with your accounting, CRM, and other business-critical systems.
The work isn't done once you settle on a BI solution and ensure its compatibility with your other software. There's still the task of integrating the BI software with your existing systems, which might be so involved it might require an IT professional.
In other words, it's not just money you'll pay for a standalone BI solution. There's the time it takes to research the solution that best meets your company's needs, make sure it will be able to gather data from your other systems, set it up, and teach your team how to use it. Some BI systems are less user-friendly than others, so there can be a steep learning curve.
There's a better way to do BI
The difficulty of finding a workable BI system might make your company wonder whether business intelligence is worth the effort.
The good news is, it doesn't have to be this way.
With the Gravity-Power BI combination, the Microsoft Power Platform is part of your Gravity Software pricing, so there's no extra effort and almost no cost to access business intelligence tools.
There's no question as to whether your business intelligence solution will integrate with your accounting system; the two are inextricably linked.
There's no question as to whether your business intelligence solution will be able to gather data from all of the entities that comprise your company. Gravity is designed especially for multi-entity accounting, and because of its seamless integration with Power BI, everything Gravity knows, Power BI knows.
Gravity also integrates with Microsoft Dynamics 365CE (Microsoft CRM) and a host of other business applications, giving your team real-time visibility across all aspects of your organization.
Convenience versus quality: how about both?
Of course, choosing software on the sole basis that it integrates with other software isn't the best way to make a decision that could impact your business significantly.
Fortunately, choosing Gravity as your accounting software and Microsoft Power BI for your business intelligence doesn't mean choosing the convenience of easy integration over the quality of your systems.
While the two programs together are an unstoppable combination, each is a top-tier solution in its own right.
The power of Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is a shining example of what Forbes.com contributor Patrick Moorhead calls Microsoft's "ongoing mission to democratize app development and automation and fill the global drought of developer resources." With Power BI, decision-driving data doesn't just have to be in the hands of a small team of developers or highly skilled analysts; it's accessible to all stakeholders.
Anyone can create colorful, engaging data visualizations – a line graph comparing different entities' month-over-month revenues, for example, or a bar graph of your top customers and their purchase amounts for a given time period.
Anyone can have a personalized dashboard containing information relevant to their role within the company, and any of Microsoft Power BI's dashboards can be embedded within a team member's Gravity dashboard.
Go beyond business intelligence to operational excellence
For Power BI to give you the best data visualization, it needs accurate, real-time data spanning multiple facets of your organization's operations. Because much of the data for the most integral business insights is financial, it's especially important that your company's accounting software be up to the task.
That's where Gravity Software comes in.
Gravity's multi-entity capabilities make it possible to generate consolidated financial reports while still operating all your company's entities with autonomy.
From a business intelligence standpoint, this means you can create appealing visualizations using any type of financial data from any combination of entities within your company. You can compare operating expenses for two restaurants in the same city, for instance, or view an enterprise-wide inputs breakdown.
With Gravity, you can automatically:
- Recognize recurring revenue in the correct time period
- Update currency exchange rates
- Perform margin analysis on inventory items
All of this means one thing: your visualizations are in real time, allowing your team to make the best possible decisions.
Having the insights needed for agile, educated decision-making is an integral part of using business intelligence to help your enterprise run leaner and smoother.
Better. Smarter. Accounting.