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Q & A: A Conversation on Next Gen Business Intelligence

Recently, we caught up with John Weber, Apprise Software's director of product management, to talk about the addition of new business intelligence tools in Apprise.

In 2012, Apprise Software integrated a new business intelligence tool into its Apprise® ERP solution for consumer goods companies. What's different about this solution that caused you to adopt it into the Apprise platform?

Our new BI solution offers our customers a really unique way of looking at business data. All the traditional data parsing and graphics are in there, but it goes so much deeper than other solutions. This solution stood out for us because of its ability to provide associative intelligence.

What is associative intelligence and how are consumer goods companies using it?

Associative intelligence enables users to discover business problems and opportunities they don't even know exist. For example, with traditional BI you can pose a business question and get your answer in the form of a chart, graph, or other format. Using the associative intelligence found in Apprise, you can filter data or type a search term and the application delivers your answer, plus it uncovers all sorts of other data relevant to your question. Users have the advantage of seeing more relational data than they've ever seen before, which is helping them discover information on problems they didn't know existed.

Can you give us an example?

The difference between standard BI tools and tools with associative intelligence can be summed up in the adage 'You don't know, what you don't know.' In standard BI, you have to know enough to ask the right questions. And in a perfect world, that would work fine. But in business, there is lots of data and hidden problems that aren't revealed in standard BI queries. It's only through associative intelligence that we begin seeing the broader relationship between data and problems in the enterprise. For example, if a customer uses associative intelligence to filter data pertaining to their warehouse operations, Apprise® Business Intelligence will pull a much broader data set that can reveal a whole lot more about the business, productivity levels, gaps in service, etc. If I see something interesting, I can drill down to learn more.

What does that look like in Apprise Business Intelligence?

Business intelligence has always delivered great data on a company's financial and sales performance. Now, associative intelligence is delivering data that can help companies see operational performance issues as well. You can still see how individual sales reps, teams or SKUs are performing. But now you can also drill into information that gives you an even broader view of your business so you can draw connections and make decisions about operational inefficiencies, too.

So Apprise Business Intelligence provides clues into the root causes of performance issues?

Exactly.

Is associative intelligence limited to certain types of information?

Apprise is a fully integrated solution. That means you can graph, search on, filter, and interact with any data in the application. With Apprise Business intelligence, you define the filters you want included in your BI. Data cascades up, down and across the organization so the entire business has access to the intelligence – based on permissions and security levels, of course.

Tell me about the collaboration tools in Apprise Business Intelligence

Another unique feature about Apprise Business Intelligence is the social sharing aspect of the application. Collaborative tools within our business intelligence enable business users to share graphical screen views, add comments, and leave an annotative trail to share insights with colleagues. Our social sharing tools enable individuals to engage in real-time collaboration sessions. And our collaboration tools allow each user to weigh in, update and present their own view of data so that problems and opportunities can be acted on quickly by all stakeholders. You can even save app decision notes and highlight the context of the discussion so you'll always have a record of how and why decisions were made.

How important are the mobile features in Apprise Business Intelligence?

Our customers are on the go. They do business in the office, at home, and on the road. So they need to access their business intelligence all the time, day and night. Smartphone and tablet optimization is really important to them.

Anything else you want to tell us about Apprise Business Intelligence?

Our new BI is touch friendly, flexible and fast, with rich, colorful graphics. It is a very robust tool for business discovery. Like other BI tools, you can chart, graph and report on your key performance indicators. Unlike other tools, we offer unique associative intelligence and collaboration tools that give you more information for faster and better decision making.