Building an Enterprise-Grade Analytic Solution for Mid-Market Companies
For many people, the idea of long-term stability is the ultimate sign of success. Some companies love to tout the number of years they’ve been in business, intending to convey their staying power. But anything that’s well established tends to become stale over time—including partnerships. Falling into predictable, repeatable patterns can be great for scalability, but it can also lead to complacency.
The best way to avoid this is for companies and their partners to be committed to adapting and changing together. If all parties are consistently challenged to improve, businesses avoid becoming static and can evolve alongside their customers.
I know this to be true in part because my company, , has been in a dynamic long-term partnership that’s led to great success. Over the past few years, TeamSystem has leveraged a long-term relationship with to bring Business Intelligence (BI) capabilities to the business users. Our joint solutions have given us the power to enhance the success of our mid-market customers.
The Need for Pervasive Access
TeamSystem is a leader in European training, management, and ERP software solutions aimed at a variety of mid-level enterprises. Our clients include craftspeople, accountants, lawyers, business consultants, and property managers. For more than 40 years, we have set the standard for software management systems, and we continue our dedication to evolution and improvement. With more than 1.4 million customers, we leverage 550 software partners to create tailor-made solutions for each client. That combination of flexibility, experience, and power created a net income greater than €400 million in 2019 alone.
After spending 14 years with IBM, I was proud to join TeamSystem seven years ago. I currently serve as Enterprise Solutions Director, where I develop software and hardware combinations that solve enterprise problems. We develop these individualized systems for both internal purposes and for our external clients.
I came to TeamSystem with a demonstrated history of working within the computer software industry. However, my skills in business process, planning, and project management also gave me an edge within the world of BI. In the early days of BI, IT knowledge was invaluable for understanding database management. However, as we are learning now, a truly useful analysis process requires pervasive access for everyone, not just those in IT.
If IT personnel are the only people who can successfully query a database to gain answers, then the decision process has a critical flaw. It takes time for leaders to formulate a question and communicate the request to IT staff, who then use their expertise to draw answers. It then takes more time to return those answers and weigh them to make any decision.
In many organizations, this process can take weeks. Today’s businesses cannot always afford to wait days or weeks to get questions answered. They need quick insights to be agile and responsive in changing environments.
Introducing TeamSystem Enterprise BI
When I arrived, TeamSystem had already been working with Qlik for years. Together, they had developed a great way to examine the data stored within our ERP system. Like all existing technology solutions, however, time is the greatest enemy. The system was aging, and facing a future of AI and machine learning, it was only a matter of time before it became obsolete. If we wanted to continue to thrive, we had to find a way to build a much better analysis system.
We already knew that BI and data analysis were the keys to creating customer success. More than just generating elaborate reports, we felt the right BI tool could help our clients transform raw data into real and relevant insights, leading to fast strategic and operational decisions. We had embedded a number of Qlik products into our TeamSystem solutions over the years. At the same time, our clients had begun to ask for a more responsive tool. Everyone was already familiar with Qlik, so it made the most sense to continue to build upon our existing foundations to create something better.
We came together once again to build . This joint solution between TeamSystem and Qlik offers strategic views, dashboards, and key performance indicators, all delivered via a real-time, easily-accessible interface. This new solution created some tremendous benefits compared to previous versions.
While our clients already had access to data, this new interface made data a living resource. Management teams can now use analysis results to implement realistic business strategies. Using the data to paint clear snapshots of a company’s ecosystem allows leaders to drive deep transformational processes. Customers understand their own organizations in completely new ways, and can identify novel opportunities to grow and improve.
These new capabilities are based on technology, which runs on top of our existing ERP. That let us roll out a completely new solution with the reliability and responsiveness of a proven software platform. The ongoing support and near immediate updates created an unprecedented ability to seek answers on the spot. Stale data reports now lead to vibrant discussions with follow-up questions. We knew this would go a long way to help our customers evolve into being much more data driven.
One of the most powerful functions facilitated by our new BI tool is the ability to make accurate forecasts. After all, what good is pouring over the numbers if you can't make realistic predictions based on those figures? We knew TeamSystem Enterprise BI would enhance our clients’ forecasting capabilities, but even we were not prepared for the feature’s widespread usefulness.
Predicting trends was obviously helpful for professionals involved in finance and production. They were finally able to use data to create more accurate decisions about future costs, inventories, and resource needs. But we also found that the forecasting tools were helpful in other areas, too. Maintenance schedules, for example, could now be based on actual item use or need, rather than periodic guesses. One by one, we discovered new ways that more responsive data could help companies across industries meet their individual needs.
A Great BI System for a Better Future
Although Microsoft and other service providers offer other BI tools, we remain convinced that staying with Qlik was a great decision. Qlik is consistently best in class with the most advanced platform available. More importantly, their constant commitment to self-improvement gives us the confidence to know that they will remain at the top of the field. No other company was as responsive to our communications and concerns, or as focused on our ability to satisfy the needs of our own clients.
This commitment to pushing beyond excellence has paid dividends to our company and clients. Our previous Qlik-based solution, OneClick Analysis, is used by about 7,000 client organizations and has more than 35,000 active users. Those numbers are great for a pre-BI tool. It works for basic data needs, but the approach to data is fairly static.
Since we launched TeamSystem Enterprise BI in 2020, the new system has already gained 3,000 customer organizations and 5,500 active users. That is nearly half of the client base that we gained in a decade under the previous system. We believe this rapid growth is a direct result of a more dynamic approach. Users can now view the data in multiple ways, making it easier to seek different perspectives.
The Power of Simplicity
Simplicity was top of mind when creating this new solution. For the most part, people who are especially skilled in BI tools don't need our help in terms of usability, but our clients span a wide variety of industries. We assist professionals and entrepreneurs in mid-market companies that would otherwise not have access to enterprise-level solutions. Many of them aren’t used to looking at data at such a granular level, and any tool that is too complicated won’t drive a self-service data model.
With TeamSystem Enterprise BI, we have all the benefits of a powerful and sophisticated solution built into a simple interface. It is incredibly easy to change the dashboard parameters to quickly access user needs. What’s more, everything works with the ERP that we already used, meaning we dramatically reduced the time necessary to onboard new users.
We know this solution works for our clients because we also use TeamSystem Enterprise BI internally. Prior to this new offering, we did not have granular information analysis within our own company. Thanks to the upgrade, we have the opportunity to monitor and examine aspects of our business that we never thought possible. We can also analyze data from specific customers to better inform our ability to maximize that relationship and their outcomes.
A Cloud-Based Future
We believe that the new frontiers on the market will all be based on the cloud, and so our ability to stay current and relevant may depend on the cloud-worthiness of our solutions. As such, we built our new ERP solution on the cloud so we—and our clients—are better positioned in the years to come.
We’ve made significant investments into cloud-based technology, but the cloud is just one aspect of building for the future. Machine learning, customer service bots, and AI capabilities are just a few of the coming attractions to BI reality. Our clients expect us to help them take advantage of these changes as they occur, and that means we have to work to take advantage of these new technologies ahead of anyone else. Only then can we lead our customers in the right direction.
At the end of the day, we wish to serve our clients the same way Qlik partners with us. We want to create a fruitful, long-term relationship based on a shared commitment to improvement. Building more powerful solutions together is one part of that journey.