Business Intelligence Solution
At Mettle, we often brainstorm the various ways that African companies can rise above the pull of the past and attain global competitiveness. And because we work with clients across industry sectors, we are continuously thinking of how the entire business ecosystem can work effectively and efficiently to serve the core purpose of ‘raising’ Africa up. For this reason, and because we are economists at heart, we started to think about the potential for business profitability and growth for companies especially SMEs. One of the mediums we sought to address was Business Intelligence (BI) tool and the ability for African companies to make accurate and timely business decisions that is vital for growth. Naturally, one of the drivers we settled on was a business intelligence solution.
The value of a business intelligence tool cannot be over emphasized, especially for companies that need data and economic forecasting to make informed business decisions. In a world of market uncertainties, there’s something quite refreshing about knowing how to drive your business forward. A BI tool can help businesses identify new revenue opportunities, track key performance indicators (KPIs), better manage inventory, explore and utilize potentials of employees, and manage resource allocation. With this in mind, we sought out to find an ideal, flexible, and cost effective business intelligence solution to meet the needs of African companies.
Our research brought us to BI4Dynamics, a United Kingdom based company with a development center in Slovenia and multiple branches across the world. We learned that the BI4Dynamics solution could help your business do awesome things like make fact-based and timely decisions, identify opportunities, improve market positioning, and enhance sales and negotiations.
Now imagine if your company can identify profitable customers, internal business challenges, and ROI? Would you consider incorporating a Business intelligence solution knowing that it could improve your local, regional and global competitive edge? For today’s segment, we reached out to Uros Hribar, Managing Partner and BI Consultant at BI4Dynamics, who graciously agreed to speak with us. Read more below to learn about big data and the advantages of incorporating a business intelligence solution in your business. In addition, if you are in the Business Intelligence and Big Data market, BI4Dynamics is looking for local partners!
Can you tell me a little bit about business intelligence solutions? How does the application/software work?
BI tool is a set of a instruments and technics that gathers relevant business data (raw data from ERP or other systems) and reorganizes this data in a way that it can be used for analysis and reporting. This means that you can have access to data from different business areas like sales, finance – receivables and payables, and the like. This reorganization can be presented in a variety of ways such as dashboards, tables and charts.
How can different companies use it?
Companies can use it in a variety of ways. For example, they can have a dashboard for top-level management that describes what is going on with the company in all the main areas of focus. Middle management can use this data and analysis to better understand what is going on and make informed decisions. This is to say that they can receive information about any changes in the business as early as possible by using BI, as opposed to waiting for the market to signify a change at a later point. On the operational level, BI can provide daily business insight on matters such as customers and vendors.
Are there options to the type of view each user has access to?
User access is defined by rights and permissions inside the ERP system. Based on the rights and permission, users can view dashboards and reports across all devices. Users can have access to prebuilt dashboards on desktop in Excel. Or on mobile devices with Power BI. Having a Business intelligence solution in house allows users have the opportunity to generate reports and dashboards on a weekly or monthly basis or build ad-hoc reports to find new insights to enable better decision-making.
So where does BI4Dynamics fit into in the business intelligence/data analysis spectrum?
BI4Dynamics is especially developed for Microsoft Dynamics – NAV and AX. It is a standardized solution, which means that customer of all business sizes, and industry can use the same solution as long as they have Microsoft Dynamics as a source of data.
Can you tell us a little bit about the client spectrum you are working with at BI4Dynamics?
Our solution covers clients across all industry sectors such as retail, government institutions, production, banking and finance, and oil and gas. We also support some verticals, which create additional software models that are added to Microsoft Dynamics likes for LS retail or pebblestone|fashion. Customers using these verticals can easily implement BI4Dynamics and these vertical content can be added to the BI. Our clients include large international enterprises with big databases and multiple users, to smaller companies with 5 to10 people and only one user.
How are companies losing out by not using their data efficiently?
Well, if you aren’t analyzing or making better use of your data, you are almost likely too late when it comes to astute decision-making. With BI, you know before you begin to lose money. You can monitor and make informed and timely decisions.
How can data be used to grow your business?
You can analyze data about your company’s promotion, customers, sales, and these information can turn help you drive your business forward.
What solution does BI4Dynamics offer? And how is it different from the closest competitors?
We offer the complete and cover all sectors such as sales, finance, inventory and warehouse management. It is actually a tool that standardizes and brings the content, data model, and predefined reports into the product that is installed. The data is thereafter loaded into our solution and connected to the reports. The customer can pretty much begin analyzing their data within a day. So the installation and deployment of BI4Dyamics is swift.
Compared to other solutions, most only have the tools. They don’t have a predefined data model (Data Warehouse) and OLAP cubes that include content measures and dimensions. They mainly have empty tools and this means that after installing, you’d have to build your data from scratch and this can be very time consuming. Whereas with BI4Dynamics, you can start analyzing data from day one as our solution is out-of-the-box and comes with pre-defined features. This I would say is the biggest difference.
Can you explain what you mean by saying BI4Dynamics comes with out-of-the-box solutions?
By this we mean that it’s ready made and you can begin using it immediately. To clarify, when comparing our solution to Power BI or Click View, Power BI and Click View are empty when you install them, so you have to define how tables are related, which calculations will be made, and you basically have create and code everything. Whereas, with BI4Dyanmics, it all comes ready made.
At what stage/business size is it smart to start using big data/business intelligence software?
As soon as they have an ERP system with a structured data. It could be a large or small company, but as soon as they have data, they can start analyzing it and can use their data to align their company’s growth.
What is the minimum budget to get started with BI4Dynamics? How expensive is your program?
Basically, for subscriptions, for about €100 (euros) a month, we could offer a Business intelligence solution.
For those who purchase our solution, then it’d be a minimum of €3000.
How flexible is the subscription?
We have packages for 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Clients can choose to extend or discontinue after their subscription expires. So they can leave when they want.
Is there a free trial period?
Yes, people can try our solution for free for 30 days without any commitment or costs.
What capacity and skills are needed to run BI4Dynamics program?
Our framework on the front end is based on Excel reports and power BI. So it’s quite good if users have some level of analytical skills and understanding of charts and graphs. It is also very important that users understand their business, so they can comprehend what is going on. We also offer training to companies on how to utilize BI, Excel and Power BI. In power BI for example, they could learn how to create reports and use our pre-defined reports.
What system requirements are required to be able to use your solution?
To be able to install the solution, there are some system requirements. Users need Microsoft Dynamics AX or NAV as a source of their data. For a small company, they only need one Windows server and the SQL server, and there’s a free version of SQL Server Express available from Microsoft, which is good enough to run BI4Dynamics. In other words, we also offer the express version of BI4Dynamics, which also uses the free server.
For larger companies, with big databases and larger number of users it is recommended that they use a separate server for BI. A single server could be used, however the performance of the Business intelligence solution would not be great.
Is there a limit to the number of users on BI4Dynamics?
No, there is no limit on the number of users. We offer licensing based on the solution, and do not price it per head. So you can have any amount of users on it. Currently in development, we are working to deploy a cloud-based solution, based on Microsoft cloud solutions, which is accessible from the web browser. This solution may be priced per head.
What is the difference between the physically installed solution and the cloud-based solution?
There are some advantages to both. To install the ERP system on your premises, you’d have to have your own servers, develop your own infrastructure and pay licenses to Microsoft for the SQL servers. Moreover, you’d have to have someone who is skilled to maintain and update the software.
The cloud base system allows you to subscribe to exactly what you need and you can decide the number of users you’d like to have on the system. You don’t need your own server or to develop your own infrastructure, or maintenance personnel.
What is your advice to companies that are thinking about doing something with their data and how can they get started?
Find a company that specializes in BI and get some information from them. They can also start by themselves by finding free software but this is time consuming. You can also use a solution as BI4Dynamics as we offer a free trial of our complete solution to every customer.
We install our solution into your environment and connect it with your Microsoft Dynamics data; so you can experience the full capacity of the solution and see how it works. There is no obligation and it’s truly free. We will also support you with training and offer you a free session called “Walk through Data”.
What do people need to be careful with when starting out? Are there any typical traps they should try to avoid?
Beware of companies who are not specialized in BI as they usually have only simple solutions. Always test the program before you buy, as many times as possible.
Be mindful of companies that offer you a way to only build simple reports. Your business is complex, even in its simplicity and to bolster continuous growth, you will need to navigate complex analysis. So you need to use a company that has a tested solution and always check their references – basically what do other businesses using the solutions say? What is their level of satisfaction?
BI4Dynamics can provide references from many companies to back up our solution.
What is the future of Business Intelligence, Data Warehouses and using Big Data to raise your business above the competition?
The big benefits will be in predictive intelligence. Currently, BI4Dynamics possesses the ability to use past information to predict the future. In the near future, I see big data and artificial intelligence predicting what will occur using not only historical data but also information from other sources. For example, to forecast sale, the Business intelligence solutions could use sources like the Internet, weather, and events going on in other regions or a nearby location. So, I imagine that predictive analysis, which will bring additional value to business intelligence solutions, is coming with the next wave.
How has BI evolved over the past 10 years?
As technology improves, so does BI. These days, we have access to web interface and mobile interface. Business intelligence solutions continue to evolve and the more data there is to process, the more innovative BI becomes.
How can companies in emerging market benefit from and be competitive in today’s world by making better use of their data?
Depending on your business and your challenges, the sooner you understand what is going on with your business, the better chance you have at addressing it and adapting to market fluctuations.
Does BI4Dynamics operate in emerging markets?
Why hasn’t emerging markets taking to data in comparison to other developed regions?
Well, I think it’s an evolving process. To be able to analyze data, you must first have the data organized before you can introduce BI. The basis for BI to be effective is to have organized data to analyze.
How do you think a business intelligence tool like yours can serve African companies in particular?
The minute you see that you have useful data, don’t wait until your company is too large for the existing IT support you have. Invest in BI, as early as possible to further enhance your growth and success. When in doubt, use a solution with free trial like ours to see how far BI can take you!
How can companies in Africa who use your solution reach out to you should they need your technical assistance?
We have our own support desk and are reachable within 24 hours at latest. As we are also in a relatively similar time zone as many African countries, we can respond quicker. BI4Dynamics has a track record of efficiently and effectively meeting our client’s needs. And as we continue to grow, we are also readily looking for local partners and we prefer this option because they have the local market understanding. So, we are interested in partnering with local companies who offer ERP (Microsoft Dynamics) and Business intelligence solutions. BI4Dynamics is a very easy solution so they can learn the day-to-day activities. So if you are a company who offers services in the BI segment, then we’d be happy to hear from you, as we are constantly seeking local partnerships to better offer our solutions locally.
Contact us at if you would like to know more about BI4Dynamics and how they can add value to your business.
Interviewed by Chisom Udeze