For 90% of small to mid-size companies, business intelligence is a far better and less costly option than data warehousing. Both of these systems have the same ultimate objective, which is to provide better data analysis. Because of the massive effort and related cost to define the data tables and relationships needed to drive the analytics, data warehousing was out of reach for most organizations. Today business intelligence has become the darling of small to mid-size organizations, regardless of which of the two most common options are utilized, because of the minimal effort and cost required to get it up and running.
In the Microsoft Dynamics world, the two most common business intelligence options are Jet Analytics (formerly Jet Enterprise) from Jet Global (formerly Jet Reports) and Power BI from Microsoft. Either Excel or Jet Reports can be utilized as the reporting tool for Jet Analytics, which means you can get the best of both worlds.
Jet Analytics relies on pre-defined data cubes, which lay out the relationship between the data needed for reporting. This approach works because the table relationships necessary for accounting purposes, which are designed around financial processes, are not always the same as what is needed for business analysis, which may be more operationally driven. Disadvantages of this approach include a higher upfront cost, more effort to build new data relationships into the data cubes, and the fact that data is only as real-time as the last update. A major advantage is the ease of driving new reports, if they match the data cubes, and performance as the reports run against a copy of the production database and not the live database itself. Data can be brought into the data cubes from a number of systems, not all of them necessarily accounting systems.
Power BI relies on accessing real-time or near real-time information from one or more databases. This means data is real-time but performance may not be optimal for more complex reports. Virtually any type of report can be created and published to the web or across mobile devices. Every user is able to create their own dashboards with a unique view. Alerts can be set up. Users can drill down into the information behind the reports. Power BI is available through an Office 365 subscription.
Either way you can’t go wrong. Spend a bit more upfront, define the data relationships through data cubes in Jet Analytics, or subscribe to Office 365 and give your users real-time access to key analytical information through Power BI.
Did you miss our blog about how offline capability should be a thing of the past for your mobile ERP system? Learn more here about how Microsoft Power Apps and Dynamics 365 Business Central can help to reduce cost, effort, and complexity when you’re on the move.