With self-service BI (business intelligence) business users do not rely on the IT department to supply them with useful information. By using self-service BI tools in addition to supply chain management software, they can browse the data warehouse themselves and discover new aspects of and perspectives on their business. We think this new trend in business intelligence is certainly of interest to food supply chain managers as well. That is why, for the future, we foresee a tight integration of self-service BI tools with our ChainPoint platform.
A resource no supply chain manager can do without is management information. This information tells us about the reality at hand, and is in many cases an aggregation of data from several sources. In a supply chain, management information can have at least three purposes:
• to monitor the supply chain and see if reality lives up to our expectations and objectives;
• to gain insights in supply chain processes that may help solve problems or improve operations;
• to gain insights in the supply chain and its environment in order to inform the strategy process.
A chain information management platform like ChainPoint is primarily built to monitor the quality, efficiency, safety and sustainability of supply chain processes. With it you can collect as much data, from as many different sources and in as many formats as you like. Through the dashboard and predefined reports you will be informed about the supply chain progress, and in case some values remarkably deviate from previously agreed norms the right people are notified to execute the right corrective actions.
But that’s not all ChainPoint can do for you. Using the ChainPoint Business Intelligence Module a data analyst can gain all sorts of insights in the supply chain, like the ones pointed out above. This data analyst can “ask” the collected data various questions, from questions that will confirm or refute a particular hypothesis, to open questions that will uncover striking correlations within the data.
However, until recently the problem with business analysis was that these data analysts had to be highly qualified information specialists, the kind you usually find within the company’s IT department. This left the “normal” business users with no other option than to ask the IT department their questions and wait hours, days and sometimes weeks for the answers. This considerably disrupted the “dialogue” a business user was having with the data.
The goal of self-service BI is to change this and put the data directly in the hands of business managers. Using tools like Microsoft Excel, or dedicated Excel extensions like PowerPivot, Power View and Power BI, or comparable tools from other suppliers, in addition to a chain information management platform business managers can ask their questions and directly receive the results; which they can then transform into reports with attractive and informative graphics that are very easily created.
To enable chain managers to use self-service BI tools within a ChainPoint environment the collected data has to be summarized, in some cases anonymized and eventually combined with other internal or external data resources. After that, the data is transformed into so called data cubes. These are multidimensional data models, that make information retrieval easier and very responsive.
We expect to come up with a self-service BI integration in the course of next year. So should self-service BI be or become of interest to you, please give us a call.