What every ERP vendor should know about BI tools

Søren Block Olsen
Søren Block Olsen
3 min read

If you don't offer BI with your ERP sales, you're missing a valuable business opportunity. Let's start with an easy question: Why are customers looking to purchase an ERP system?

According to Gartner, there's two very basic answers. First, companies are looking for IT cost savings. And second, they're looking for improved efficiency on business processes. It's fair to say then that if you truly want to offer solid cost savings and improved efficiency to your customers, you're falling short by only offering an ERP system.

No one can dispute the power and necessity of an ERP system for businesses. But let's break down the basic functions. An ERP system is designed for transactions to collect and store data. That's it. So what are your customers supposed to do with this data once it's stored away in their data warehouse?

Many manually pull information into static Excel spreadsheets. As we say all the time at TARGIT, that's not BI. That's countless hours of frustration, manual manipulation, and mistakes waiting to happen.

With different users each manipulating data differently, it becomes challenging to maintain a consistent shared world view across the company. This is especially apparent when those reports are generated in Excel and manipulations live only in an individual's own files. Say, for example, a sales person needs to pull his monthly report a day early because he's taking the next day off. Or someone else deletes the last 10 rows of sales because they don't make sense.

These might then be shared through paper reports, word of mouth, emails, or via the company network, causing further fragmentation and loss of control of data consistency. There could be hundreds of versions of the truth spread throughout the company.

With BI, companies are guaranteed to have only one version of the truth. And that's just the start. Here are five things every ERP partner should know about BI and why you should be offering it to your customers.


1. BI and Data Discovery are growing faster than the ERP market


At 9.2% growth in 2013, BI and Data Discovery solutions outpaced last year's 7 percent ERP market growth. More people are shopping for a comprehensive Business Intelligence platform than they are for an ERP system. It's as simple as that. Don't be left behind.


2. You must know your customer's KPIs when selling ERP


According to Gartner, 71% of companies know which KPIs are critical to their business. But only 48 percent say they have access to the measures that affect them. This evolution of the importance of data will require ERP partners to think and sell differently.

A data-driven business needs instant access to lagging indicators, external leading indicators, and internal leading indicators. An ERP system only stores a company's lagging indicators. That is, revenue, cost, gross margins, profit margins, debt to equity, and inventory turnover.

Missing from this critical equation is the external leading indicators: twitter sentiment, brand mentions, sharing activity, Google trends, SEO ranking, AdWords, market valuation, and stock performance. And don't forget the important internal leading indicators: website visitors, conversion ratio, cost per lead, sales by representative, employee satisfaction, new customers by period, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and net promoter score. Without all of these measures delivered in a clear, concise way at the push of a button, it's impossible to make an informed business decision.

 

3. BI helps you accelerate ERP sales

 

Think about the profile of your typical ERP customer. They're coming from either the finance or the IT department. That's because those are the departments worried about tracking the lagging indicators I mentioned above. This is the ERP's sweet spot.

But offering a Business Intelligence solution makes you relevant to the rest of the organization. With BI in your selling tool belt, you can create influence with marketing, sales, operations, and HR departments that you simply can't with ERP alone.

 

4. BI provides unique IP and differentiation for your industry or vertical

 

In addition to their ERP offerings, Microsoft partners typically include an industry-specific solution that taps into specific verticals, such as a pharmaceutical or heavy machinery dealer solution.

A BI platform is then offered on top of that stack to provide the dashboards, reports, data visualizations, and analyses that only Business Intelligence can provide. No matter your industry or vertical, Business Intelligence is necessary to enhance the solution. Complement your solution stacks, or customers will go elsewhere to find what they need.

 

5. BI provides key product differentiation against competition

 

Those companies combining ERP and a BI platform to build a stronger offering have become key competitors in the market. Oracle, SAP, and IBM all market ERP and BI together. And those who don't are being left behind. Over 60% of Business Objects users are previous SAP ERP users who left the platform when looking to adopt a Business Intelligence platform. Luckily, SAP learned from their mistake. Now, when selling ERP, both SAP and Oracle lead with an integrated BI solution on every sales engagement. 

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Originally published July 3, 2014. Updated March 26, 2020

Søren Block Olsen
Written by

Søren Block Olsen

Director of Marketing & Sales Operations