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The Challenge of BI for Small and Medium-sized Businesses: Resources, Organization, and Gaining a Strategic Edge

by Mladen Gvozdenović
CEO, BI4Dynamics,

Business Intelligence (BI) is still a synonym for expensive and complex solutions that require skilled IT workers. The market is ruled by front-end vendors and BI service providers that focus on the enterprise segment, not on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and their unique functional and organizational needs.

SMBs desperately need better insight into their businesses and most would benefit from an affordable, easy to use BI solution that does not require ongoing IT resources. Microsoft's definition of small and mid-size segment, and the one we will work with in the three scenarios that will follow, is:

  1. Small business: 1-49 employees using 1-24 PCs
  2. Mid-sized business: 50-1000 employees using 25 -500 PCs (In smaller countries 50-500 employees using 25-250 PCs)

Microsoft Dynamics ERP customers define reporting as a basic need. But in the SMB space they rarely manage to differentiate between a reporting tool and a BI solution, between ad-hoc analysis and static reporting.

Microsoft technologies (SQL Server, Excel, Share Point) are frequently present already, especially for companies that have already invested in Microsoft Dynamics, so they should be extended to BI usage (back-end and front-end), at least in theory.

But Microsoft has no appealing solution for the structural (back-end) part of BI. Microsoft Dynamics partners are under pressure from their customers and are trying to solve the challenges that remain. As some are selling reporting tools, others are building up BI teams that develop back-end solutions (the structural part) in-house. Most Dynamics partners do nothing; they are waiting to jump on the right wagon. But - which one?

The SMB segment cannot be served the same way as the enterprise segment (where BI needs are ...

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About Mladen Gvozdenović

Mladen Gvozdenović is founder and CEO of BI4Dynamics, a Microsoft Dynamics VAR and ISV. He has twenty years' experience in every aspect of IT business, and also as a NAV Consultant and Project Leader.

BI4Dynamics is a standardized business intelligence solution for NAV and AX, adding tremendous business value to Microsoft Dynamics users and partners.

BI4Dynamics is a member of the President`s Club for Microsoft Dynamics 2010 & 2011, a Microsoft Gold partner and aMicrosoft Small Business Specialist.