Business Intelligence for SMEs - faster time to value and more affordable than ever

This article was featured in SAP MENA's June 2014 newsletter. 

Given the fierce competition and the ever-soaring demands of customers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Marcs-phototoday need to invest in having BI capabilities to stay relevant and meet these demands. Yet, with scarce resources available, the alignment of business and IT is vital to ensure success, and new options for hosted BI solutions freeing up cash flow are attractive options for SMEs, feels Marc Haberland, managing director, Clariba.

Clariba is a boutique business analytics services provider with a strong focus on providing value to customers of any size whether it is an SME or a large enterprise.

Clariba is a SAP Partner and works with SAP BusinessObjects, considered to be the most advanced Business Intelligence (BI) technology available in the market today. Clariba offers affordable BI solutions to SMEs that purely require configuration and not a complete development from scratch. Their FastTrack BI solutions work for specific industries, such as retail and manufacturing, but also cross-industry for different lines of business, such as finance, human resources or sales.

“As an SME, you need to be very close to the market; you need to understand how the market trends are changing, and be close to business performance whether it is sales, cash flow or your financial position. Many SMEs are now looking to reduce their capital expense, a rapid implementation and are hesitant to spend time maintaining servers in house. Further to this, SMEs may not have the necessary expertise to manage a business critical solution such as BI. This is where SMEs now have options to outsource and use the Cloud,” says Marc. “You can now have your e-mail, ERP, CRM and BI in the cloud because as an SME you need to focus on what you do best. You need to stay flexible and not burden yourself with solutions that someone else can maintain and manage better,” adds Marc.

He reiterates that more and more SMEs will be moving from the traditional option of an on-premise solution—which is the conventional way of buying the server, the license and the implementation—to the Cloud. “You can have the servers in-house but the reality is that if a company is having their server managed in the cloud, that company will be much better in maintaining security and ensuring that the necessary patches are up-to-date and the network is up and running. A typical SME wouldn’t have the time, focus or resource to manage this and therefore I see a very strong trend of SMEs moving to the cloud and having this managed by providers like Clariba,” says Marc.

Clariba works with SAP’s Business Intelligence and Enterprise Performance Management solutions and according to Marc, it is the best solution for SMEs.

“It is very cost effective and covers all the key use-cases an SME would have whether it provides reporting, ad-hoc analysis and data discovery capabilities for end-users without the need for training or dashboards for the top management. Some of the other options in the market only address a specific use-case and do not provide the complete package; so you would need to invest in different solutions that come at a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). With its FastTrack BI solutions, Clariba provides an end-to-end offering with SAP BusinessObjects for any data source, implemented in a matter of weeks. This is one of the strengths of SAP BusinessObjects and Clariba,” says Marc.

He adds that using the solution, companies can automate their manual processes, free up their time and focus on how to how to achieve more revenue, optimize cost and run more successfully. “For example, if procurement has a meeting with a supplier, there is a lot of manual work that has to happen as preparation for the meeting; something that typically is done in Microsoft Excel. With SAP BusinessObjects, you can optimize and automate your supplier performance report, which otherwise would take 2 to 3 hours but now it can be prepared while you are sitting with your supplier in a minute with a click of a button. What more, with a filter you can access a specific product set, or deliveries that have been done. So you can actual provide this information proactively to your supplier so that they themselves can optimise their delivery performance,” explains Marc.

In the last couple of years, mobile devices have become ubiquitous and so much of the business happens on-the-go. People do not want to carry their laptops anymore, preferring to work on tablets and mobiles. Understanding this need and trend, Clariba now develops dashboards and reports for the mobile devices first, with desktop as a second priority. “The priority now is to develop something for the mobile device which also works on the desktop. We follow a mobile first policy as most customers are asking us to build for mobile,” says Marc. “The good thing about developing something on SAP BusinessObjects is that you can decide whether you want to publish it to mobile or to desktop without any redevelopment. This is especially important for an SME—you don’t have to maintain two different reports, one for the mobile and one for the computer,” he adds.

Breaking the perception that Business Intelligence solutions are expensive and only for big companies, Marc maintains that SAP has a very strong focus on the SME market. "SAP no longer provides solutions that are only reserved for the elite companies. SAP has a strong and dedicated focus to provide solutions that are priced for the SME market," he says. “With SAP BusinessObjects and with the Cloud model, Clariba provides a new option to our customers; a solution where the customer provides a monthly fee and for that monthly fee, they have a server, license, implementation, hardware and internet access; and they do not have to worry about hosting the solution in house. They have us doing it for them externally, so that they can really focus on their business,” adds Marc.

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Marc Haberland is the Managing Director of Clariba. Marc has more than 15 years' experience in Business Intelligence (BI), analytics, strategy management and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) across telecommunication, education, healthcare, manufacturing, banking and public sectors. Marc leads a team of 30+ BI and analytics experts who deliver innovative, reliable and high-quality business analytics solutions, providing its customers with clarity and actionable insight to improve their business performance.

As an industry thought leader, Marc shares his insights on hot topics and trends through various speaker engagements, publications, discussion groups and his company blog.