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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence

I hope everyone is having a blessed day, and you find yourself productive in our Dynamics filled world. May is once again here, and that means we tilt ever so closer towards our solar systems star - in the northern hemisphere that is. That also means planning for summer time vacation, baseball / softball, as well as an assortment of water related activities. The march towards summer begins, and that means the world around us continues to come alive.

With spring in full force, I thought it was time to talk about the needed topic of beyond Dynamics AX with Business Intelligence. Lets face it, more and more projects are being sold & implemented well, that has Microsoft Dynamics AX only acting as an operational ERP element. It's one spoke in the total solution for larger companies. When you have this reality, Dynamics AX is no longer the single data mart from which analytic's & insights are derived from.

As we see from the above image, when Dynamics AX is the data mart in which such BI artifacts solely are crafted around, then you have a very compelling story in which a companies total reporting needs can be told by. This is Sunrise's standard offering for business intelligence needs. That is: Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.

Are focus is expanded however, when the needs of the customer expand. To help facilitate the understanding of when and where this might be the case, let's start by listing a high level set of topics, that in turn will be used to guide into greater business insights for customers. Further, how each of these topics would drive to a more complete or total BI story that is crafted for a customer. All the while, keeping in mind that the tool is the last thing you focus on for a real BI project.

  • Dynamics AX is a spoke, not the hub - Here we have a total solution scenario, where Dynamics AX is an operational ERP element in a customers total solution. This means 2:n possible line-of-business applications that complete an end-to-end solution for a customer. When this is the case, items like real data warehouses, ETL, Master Data Management across the systems, and more must come into the picture. This further means that what tools are best for achieving the ultimate end goal might need to be extended beyond the Office+SharePoint+SQL Server.
  • Security & Exposure beyond the Dynamics AX walls - Here we have a need for an organization that has reporting requirements. These reporting requirements however dictate that there are business insights needed for employees that will not have, nor should not have access to Dynamics AX at all. When this is true, again, then we have directive for something that extends beyond the walled garden of Dynamics AX.
  • Mobile BI across a multitude of platforms - There is a very compelling story that can be told with the BI stack of Office+SharePoint+SQL Server. Mobile is very much apart of this, specifically with the release of Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. However when you want a mobile BI platform, that needs to reach beyond the Microsoft world, in a more native way, then extending beyond the BI stack that comes with Dynamics AX is needed.
  • Abstraction - This last point is more focused around that true executive information system, or dashboard. With the continued improvements being made for Dynamics AX, and those improvements driving more technology and model churn, the need for abstracting away the C & B level executives from such churn is a valid one. Having something that extends beyond the Dynamics AX BI stack, can help abstract out the executive's and their analytical needs. Reality is, these might change some, but not at the rate in which technology, and further Dynamics AX is changing.

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

The above, by far is not a final list but something that hopefully has you thinking in terms of a more complete BI solution. There is hardly ever any truth in we bought (insert product name) now we have BI! Real business intelligence for customers is always about the data first, then reporting need second, and finally the product or products that help delivery on said need last. Take into consideration any of the above points, and you have a more larger requirement - where selecting specific tools first could halt the needed progression that is demanded by the organization.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue to expand upon each of the above topics, and others in how I feel these are best addressed. This includes both the stack that comes with Dynamics AX, and beyond that for a total solution offering.

That's all for this post, I hope you have enjoyed it and your excited to hear more. One final note, I would like to say that I'm honored to have been listed once again this year in the DynamicsWorld Top 100 list. Top 25 again this year! Honestly the amount of work that some of the people put into the ecosystem, that I can be included with amazes me. This community as a whole has grown leaps and bounds over the past 3 years. I can't say enough of how honored I am to be included as part of it. Til Next Time!

Visit Hillstar Business Intelligence (www.HillstarBI.com) in order to truly unlock your data trapped in your Microsoft Dynamics investment. With our value driven business intelligence strategy Hillstar help you transform into a data informed company.

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