Reporting tools are not analytical tools

Author: Bit Software
Date: 24- 02- 2011

Implementing a Business Intelligence solution is a stumbling block for many software companies. And this because any BI software is customized depending on customer requirements. In other words, the implementation requires an analyze of client business, a correct insight of customer needs and an adapting to the real situation existing at the client business level.

When I said that it takes to guess the customers correct needs, I considered that many of the Romanian managers do not know how a BI solution could help them. And although they shows delighted when you present such a solution and are even willing to buy it, its few those who know exactly what they want and for what they want a BI solution you when you ask them that.

Once you manage to see which are the customer needs and, most important, once you reach to make the client realize what are his own needs, a new battle begins. To explain him that not every reporting tool can be used as BI. To explain him that Excel is indeed a great reporting tool, but can not ever be transformed into a BI solution, regardless of how skilled is the operator or how well he knew the company and the business.

In the view of some of the Romanian managers, the fact that his assistent call every morning the department managers, receives the value of inventory and requisitions, write them on a A4 sheet and put it on administrative manager`s desk, to see it when he comes to office , is also a BI solution. Why? Because in the eyes of many, Business Intelligence is limited to say and to control what happens in company. Or, if the manager read the paper, he can call any department manager to ask him why the raw materials warehouse is empty, considering that was supplied a few days ago. And such "analysis" can be done without a PC and expensive software.

Therefore its extremely important for managers to understand that a reporting tool can not be confused with a BI tool. They must understands that a report tells you that you have achieved 80% of the plan, while a BI solution tells you where are those 20% missing, why, how, when etc. And to understand why a reporting tool is not a BI tool, must made a distinction between data, information and intelligence. By the economic point of view, and not linguistically speaking, obviously. The data refers to the current stock, either the section or article, and the information tells what is your needs, for what period and what is the cost involved. Instead, the intelligence learns you about the optimal order needs / cost / productivity, how to reallocate existing surpluses for maximum efficiency and much more.

In other words, a BI offers you intelligence, informations analyzing, and not an empty report. And do not reach to run out of stock items, because the system automatically alerts you. What an Excel doesn`t. And not because it doesn`t want, but it can not. Because it is just a reporting tool, not an analysis tool.