Increase your BI-Q with Info-Explorer
How do you rate your Business Intelligence Quotient? Orchid’s Info-Explorer might be the tool you need to go top of the class.
As we prepare for this month’s Webinar Wednesday event, “Getting Started with Info-Explorer”, it seems a good time to take a quick step back and ask...
What is Business Intelligence (BI)?
Last year we wrote about turning data into information, which is elegant, but perhaps a bit esoteric. This OLAP.com page describes BI solutions as being “data-driven Decision Support Systems (DSS)”, together with a concise and readable explanation. While there may be no universally accepted definition, we think CIO.com hits the nail on the head when it says that:
BI leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization’s business decisions.
Can Info-Explorer can increase your BI-Q?
Info-Explorer, Orchid’s affordable yet powerful BI tool, fits into the category of BI solutions known as Self-Service Business Intelligence (SSBI). These allow end-users to directly access and analyse business data without the need for IT support.
The right SSBI solutions can also make the benefits of BI accessible to businesses with modest budgets, rather than just large corporations with dedicated IT teams and data analysts.
BI, DSS, SSBI…with all those acronyms flying around, we figured there was room for one more, so we’ve made up our own:
We think a good SSBI should result in a higher Business Intelligence Quotient (BI-Q).
Putting Info-Explorer to the Test
What should you be looking for in an SSBI solution, and how does Info-Explorer measure up?
For an objective checklist we’ve turned to another CIO.com article that sets out these seven criteria for picking a self-service BI platform:
Info-Explorer can extract data from Sage 300, or any other SQL/ODBC database. E.g., you could pull information from both your ERP and CRM systems, creating a merged data set for analysis.
Info-Explorer also imports data directly from the source database into memory, rather than from an intermediate data warehouse, so you can perform your analysis on the most up-to-date information.
Logic to manipulate data and apply custom formulas can be built into your queries, and applied at the time of extract.
After populating your cube, you can perform slice & dice, multi-dimensional analysis. Drag & drop to add or remove dimensions. Apply filters to refine your view. All this with fast, in-memory processing.
Info-Explorer also lets you drill through into a Sage 300 screen or transaction for a closer look at the underlying data, or to investigate an apparent anomaly.
Ease of Learning & Use
Info-Explorer uses a familiar, intuitive, spreadsheet-type layout. Video content, available on our website, ranges from short ‘Quick Start’ guides to advanced training.
We also have a catalogue of sample cubes, allowing you to quickly familiarize yourself with the tool, and get a rapid return on investment. You can then use these as a solid base for developing your own custom cubes.
Info-Explorer lets you convert your data to charts, and create your own dashboards, highlighting exceptions and trends. You can also use custom formatting styles, e.g. traffic light reporting for at-a-glance performance monitoring.
Save and share your custom cubes with other licenced users, or export views to Excel, allowing you to distribute the results of your analysis to a wider audience. Combine with Orchid Process Scheduler to regularly refresh and distribute selected cubes by email.
Costs & Benefits
Once you’ve paid for your Info-Explorer licences you don't need to worry about hidden or extra costs, such as hosting and storage fees.
Orchid Systems also makes the Info-Explorer Lite edition available free of charge, allowing you to perform your own cost-benefit analysis, using your own data, (with some restrictions), before committing to a purchase.
But why take our word for it?
Acknowledgements: This article refers to, and includes selected quotes from, CIO.com articles “What is business intelligence? Transforming data into business insights” by Mary K. Pratt and Josh Fruhlinger, and “How to select the best self-service BI tool for your business” by Martin Heller.