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Business Intelligence Trends of 2017 & Beyond

If you don’t know by now, business intelligence (BI) is the best way for your organization to stay competitive in the market. BI utilizes a variety of tools and methodologies to allow organizations to collect data, analyze it, and transform it into reports and visualizations that make analytical results available to decision makers. Business intelligence can accelerate your decision-making process, help your organization optimize processes, increase efficiency, create new revenues, and ultimately gain an advantage over your competition.

Over the last years, we’ve seen BI revamp organizations of all types and sizes, and we predict it will continue to become more and more popular. Here are the top three trends to look out for in 2017:

1. Modern BI takes the lead

Last year, many organizations began making the shift to modern BI. The capability to evaluate analytics moved from the hands of very few to the fingertips of many, as businesses transitioned away from the IT-centric reporting platforms to modern BI and analytics platforms. Organizations are empowering even non-analysts to explore data and collaborate with their findings. In 2017, we will see modern BI become a top priority for organizations of all sizes across all industries.

2. Analytics will become more accessible

Technologic advancements have made working with data feel more natural; online data is no longer a language only IT specialists understand. In 2017, advanced analytics will become the new standard for business users and will no longer be reserved for use by data scientists and experts exclusively. In the past year, we’ve already seen business users leveraging powerful analytics functions, and in 2017, they will continue to expand their analytics skill set.

3. Data literacy will become a crucial skill

As advanced analytics become more accessible to business users, data literacy will become a new necessary skill for professionals of all types. Last year, LinkedIn listed business intelligence as one of the hottest skills to get you hired and we don’t expect to see that changing anytime soon. Just as proficiency in Microsoft Office is expected of all business professionals, in 2017, competency in analytics will become fundamental in the workplace.

Now is the time to implement a business intelligence program for your business, no matter how large or small your organization may be. While business intelligence may be a new and growing industry, at NSA we have years of experience developing and implementing BI programs for organizations of all types and sizes. Let us give your business the competitive advantage in your market!


Top 5 Tips Advanced Inventory Management Helps You Grow Your Business

Distributors understand the business objectives behind an Advanced Inventory Management (AIM) system: you can grow your business successfully by knowing exactly what, how many, and when to ship your products. Inventory management makes it possible for distributors to accelerate the pace of profitability. To achieve these business objectives, try the following 5 tips for maximizing your inventory management – and call NSA for help optimizing your ERP solution to implement your own successful inventory management system:

1. Provide better customer service. When your customer service representatives and sales team are armed with an updated inventory list, order points, and replenishment schedule, they can provide outstanding customer service.

2. Track the product lifecycle. Use your ERP system to analyze and report results, track sales, transfers, and lost sales, and flag exceptions.

3. Get the timing right. Your inventory should arrive just in time- you don’t want it to sit on your warehouse shelves or end up with products you don’t need.

4. Track and monitor progress against targets. Monitor how much your carrying costs are in relation to freight, service, and price. Know where you stand in terms of supply volume and demand.

5. Use business intelligence to make decisions. Your ERP solution should offer a paperless, real-time control center that highlights any inventory that requires your immediate attention, allow you to sort by parameters you set, and drill down to order points, individual items, and line points.

The competition is tough. That means it’s more important than ever to offer your customers something your competitors are not- effective inventory management. This will allow you to offer better customer service and deliver orders correctly and on time, leading to happy customers and customer loyalty.

Let’s have a conversation to see what challenges you currently face and how NSA can help develop your own unique Advanced Inventory Management system.




Spring Forward with Solutions from NSA

At NSA, we understand the issues wholesalers face. As your one stop for ERP software optimizations, we’re here to help you run your business smoothly and effectively. We’ll teach you how to use your ERP software more efficiently, help you develop your own unique Advanced Inventory Management (AIM) system, and implement Business Intelligence solutions to increase profitability in your distribution center.

Here are the top 3 solutions we recommend for every business:

ERP Software

Using ERP software more effectively offers many benefits: save time, improve inventory record keeping, expedite purchasing process, enjoy mobilization, better decision making with improved business intelligence, and financial savings with the cloud.

Inventory Management

Inventory management makes it possible for distributors to accelerate the pace of profitability. Your ERP solution should help you maximize the benefits of a good inventory management system. Developing an Advanced Inventory Management system will allow for better decision making by tracking the product lifecycle and getting the timing right. It will reduce inventory costs, surplus, waste, carrying costs, and freight and replenishment costs. Effective inventory management allows you to deliver outstanding customer service and develop customer loyalty. We can help you develop an Advanced Inventory Management system unique to your company, to give you more control, less chaos, and prevent unexpected problems.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence is the key to higher profitability in your distribution center. Our Business Intelligence solutions will help you save money, eliminate bottlenecks, and use data to reach your goals. Business Intelligence reduces labor costs through automation of data collection, automation of report generation, and reduction of training time and costs for developing and maintaining reports. Our Business Intelligence solution eliminates information bottlenecks for faster access to reports in your distribution center. We do this by allowing end users to create and view reports without waiting for the IT Department or Finance Department. A key part of our Business Intelligence solution includes providing documentation of KPIs, and providing customized dashboards for each user. We improve collaboration so users can forward selected data with other users, assign targets, and responsible persons to KPIs.

Let us develop a unique Business Intelligence solution for your company to make it easier and faster to make educated decisions.

NSA’s Senior Consultants have decades of experience in wholesale distribution and Infor SX.eand can help you optimize your software investment to get the most out of your ERP software. Let us review each area of your business, teach you how to use your software more efficiently, and make recommendations for the future goals of your organization.

business intelligence data

Become More Competitive Using Your Business Intelligence Data

Understanding how and why your business performs the way it does is the information you need to make good business decisions. You can make decisions faster and with better results if you have Business Intelligence data that clearly shows you how well (or not!)  your organization is performing; and which areas are experiencing decreased productivity. Every ERP solution produces vast amounts of data, but you can’t do anything with that data unless you have a Business Intelligence System.

Business Intelligence Data should help you understand why your business is not reaching performance goals so you can take action to improve any areas that are under-performing. A quality ERP solution with Business Intelligence provides the performance data you need in a meaningful way so you can quickly take steps to overcome your competition.

Competitive Marketplace

The current state of the economy, among other factors, have led to a more competitive marketplace. Companies are always looking improve processes to save time and money, while using tools that allow better decision making. In the last decade, information technology and automation technologies have given forward-thinking businesses the ability to stay one step ahead of their competitors through the ability to store and manage high volumes of information. This information is called “business intelligence”, and helps decision makers predict future events and their impact on the business, optimize their response times, and avoid challenges.

Advantages of Using Business Intelligence

The primary benefits for companies relying on business intelligence for their decision making include:

  • Saving Time – through automation, businesses are able to save time and costs which increases the overall productivity and revenue of the company.
  • Quicker Access to Information – not only is it important for business’ to collect and store business data, but they also need to access it quickly when needed to make decisions. Our ERP solution provides a tool to store and easily retrieve information needed for decision making.
  • Improved Decisions – armed with the business data, decision makers are able to make better decisions based on facts and trends rather than guessing.

ERP Business Intelligence Analysis

Our ERP solution offers business intelligence data for analysis, giving you a variety of dynamic reports that enable you to better understand your business performance. It pulls information from the system database for the creation of “Power Cubes”. Power cubes allow you to drag-and-drop and point-and-click to various information to create interactive reports that show you exactly what you need to see.

The cubes give you insight to changes in sales over time, how your suppliers are performing, and how often you turn over your inventory, among other things.

Choose from the following features for analyzing data from various points of view:

  • Drill Down – move from one level of information to the next forfast answers to key data
  • Slice-and-Dice– look at data from any angle and inany combination
  • Graphical analysis– create graphical displays to see trends easier


Explore Data in Detail

Our ERP solution provides more than just a summary of business intelligence data. You can explore any piece of data in more detail, with features that make it possible to sort information, filter specific information in or out of view, rank, or analyze via comparisons. Using advanced business intelligence makes it possible for decision makers to identify exceptions and make future projections armed with actual evidence rather than estimates and blind predictions.


Share and Present Data

Create sophisticated visual reports of business intelligence to quickly demonstrate to decision makers areas of trouble in the business and suggestions for overcoming challenges with changes to your processes.

You can view multiple “power cubes” at the same time with an executive dashboard. The ability to review multiple reports at once provides the ability to see how information correlates, and improves your decision making ability.

To get the edge on the competition, you need to find ways to reduce costs while increasing revenue, and make intelligent decisions for the growth of your business. When your decision making strategy is based on accurate and relevant data from your business, you will become more successful and reach your business goals faster.

need distribution center business intelligence

Top 5 Signs Your Distribution Center Needs Better Access to Business Intelligence Solutions

If you’re running a distribution center, chances are you’ve got an ERP solution that is just loaded with data you could use to make better decisions. There is data in there that can tell you where you’re wasting money, where inefficiencies are costing your team valuable time, and even offer clues for improving your bottom line. If only you could access that data and put it to good use! Utilizing distribution center business intelligence is the key to higher profits.

You already have an ERP solution. We know that. You might be thinking, “why fix it if it ain’t broke!”, and we understand that, too. But you might not know what you’re missing out on, if your current ERP solution doesn’t give you an easy way to use the data it keeps on your operations.

Making Sense of Distribution Center Business Intelligence for Better Profits

When your ERP solution provides business intelligence data in an accessible way, you can create meaningful reports to analyze information about your distribution center which can translate to higher profitability. Not all ERP solutions are created equal. It can be difficult to pull the data you need from your ERP system, which leads to companies failing to use the information in useful ways. If you’re not using your data to make decisions, you better believe your competitors are.

There are ERP solutions with accessible business intelligence data that make it easy to pull the information you need from the system, when you need it, and in a format that allows you to compare and contrast the information to make better business decisions, increase efficiency and profits.

Not sure if you need better access to distribution center business intelligence data? Check out the following signs you need it – and if any of these sound familiar, it’s time to start thinking about software that can extract the data from your ERP system, optimizing your ERP solution, or an ERP Upgrade.

Top 5 Signs Your Distribution Center Needs Better Access to Business Intelligence Solutions

late to meeting

  1. You need to run a simple report for a meeting that starts in fifteen minutes, but you can’t make it work.


sleeping at work stockunlimited 18869912. When you need a more advanced report to analyze the operational data, it takes you so long to get the information you need from your ERP that the report is finally created…. with data that is completely inaccurate and out of date.

Arguing.3. You spend company meetings arguing with co-workers about who has the most accurate report, since you can’t seem to duplicate the same information every time you need to access it.

can't find data4. You have to tell vendors, suppliers, or clients that you will “look that information up later”, because you know there is no way you can find it in a reasonable amount of time to present it on-the-spot.

Cell.5. You attempt to create reports and save data via spreadsheets and manual entry of information.


Sound like you?

If this sounds like your process – you should know that technology has come a long way and could actually help you become more efficient. Your data isn’t just there to take up space – it should be used to make educated decisions that help your distribution center grow.


NSA President Patrick VanPutte discussed Distributor Analytics in a recorded webinar. Take a look when you have a chance!




Infor SX.e

6 Things Distributors Can Measure Every Day to Improve Profitability

Business Intelligence – or BI as it’s known in the industry – is a way for companies to make changes and track progress to improve daily business operations and long-term profitability. Business intelligence is not a data-dump; rather, it’s a comprehensive system for tracking, monitoring, and adapting to improve the overall customer experience and distribution workflow. To be successful in achieving such goals, there are a few actions and processes that distributors must measure. Here is a list of 6 things distributors can review in their Infor business intelligence reports to improve profitability.


1.   Profit margin

Business Intelligence systems (such as those offered through MITS – contact NSA to learn more about MITS business intelligence system and how it integrates with your Infor ERP), allow essential personnel to capture a comprehensive snapshot of profit margins for each customer, not a collective estimate of the entire book of business. BI also allows you to view profit margins for your warehouses, and the products moved in and out of the facility. This allows the distributor to reflect better customer pricing, as well as guide the sales team to focus on profitable avenues and relationships. The potential to increase profits improves immediately because the immediate access and individualized profit margin snapshots allows for targeted profit margin increases and movement.


2.   Bad debts

Bad debts are killing your company’s bottom line, and you may not even realize it if your BI system is out of date. Just as stale inventory and excess inventory weighs down on the company’s profits, so do bad debts. Infor business intelligence methods must provide essential personnel and sales teams access to reports about bad debts to avoid incurring larger debts with the same client. It also allows companies to continue to collect on bad debts. Customers who do not pay can be denied shipments, they can be removed from sales calls, and they can be reconfigured to ensure paying clients receive priority shipments.


3.   Stale inventory

Too many warehouses are stocked with inventory that they simply can’t move, and the worst part about it is that some don’t even realize they have it or that customers aren’t buying it. The problem with large-scale data dumps is the absence of individual records because they are too difficult to find. Infor BI systems permit users to locate which inventory products the customers are buying, and which ones remain stagnant. Where some distributors overwhelm themselves with stale, profit-sucking inventory is when they try to stock all of the accessories and supplemental inventory that fits each inventory item. Business Intelligence aims to relieve warehouses of inventory problems by reporting which accessory items actually move when the initial inventory item is purchased, and which ones continue to sit on the shelves.  Ridding the shelves of unnecessary accessories and supplemental items clears space for profit-proven inventory.

4.   Stock-out

If your warehouse isn’t aware of a stock-out until it actually has to say the words, it’s time to rethink the BI plan. Stock-out affects all aspects of the business, especially sales. After discussing stale inventory, it is important for companies to understand what can replace it instead to reduce stock-out. Essentially, stock-out means your company could not keep up with the demand of specific products, and when a customer tried to order it, the distributor could not provide the item because they ran out and did not have the systems and foresight in place to replace it before the stock-out occurred. Tracking the potential for stock-out does a number of things: it increases annual sales, and it meets the customer’s demand. When customers experience stock-out, they have no problem finding the item somewhere else. Few are willing to wait for your warehouse to reorder it, track it, tag it, and ship it when it arrives.


5.   Employee activity

No, we aren’t talking a Big Brother tracking system, but one that allows employees to give up a few tasks, opting for thorough and automated reporting instead. Too many employees are tasked with daily reporting, which means most of the time is spent creating the reports themselves. This takes critical employees away from their daily tasks, and it ceases the cog in productivity. Warehouses that embrace automated Infor reporting business intelligence relieve the daunting task of generating reports so they can get back to the jobs they were hired to do, and make decision based on the more thorough BI analytics.


6.   Accessibility

Finally, another critical aspect to track is accessibility. This is something often overlooked by many warehouses because it seems simple – it’s ordered, you find it. But it’s more complicated than cherry picking as needed. Accessibility is strategic. BI allows distributors to identify moveable stock, close-to-dead dead, write-offs, seasonal inventory, and more. It is up to the warehouse to decide where each is. Inventory that moves at higher rates and during specific times should be arranged in a way so that it is easily accessible. This cuts down on processing and shipping time, improving its turnaround time, increasing the space for more profitable inventory, and improving the customer experience overall.


Getting started with business intelligence reporting is easy, and integrating your business intelligence system with Infor ERP is even easier when you contact NSA for assistance. Don’t lag behind, and it you are, know how to track it with business intelligence that works for your bottom-line.

business intelligence for manufacturers

How Business Intelligence Can Help Manufacturers

Orders in, boxes out, phone calls ringing, and vendors on the line. The manufacturing industry is challenging, and for every task in, your operations require three more out. How does your company manage the monstrous to-do list to keep up with production, shipping, buying, communication, and more? For companies just like yours, the solution is simple – Business Intelligence. Check out the 10 ways Business Intelligence (BI) can help manufacturers like yourself.

What is Business Intelligence?

Business Intelligence systems, or business intelligence tools, are a specific type of software that assist manufacturers and personnel with handling and analyzing daily tasks – morning, noon, and night. Business intelligence tools collect and analyze data to provide essential personnel and managers with making efficient and profitable decisions.

Business intelligence software provides companies with all the insights about their customers, sales, vendors, and market activity for marketing, profits, and more. BI is a blanket term that includes data mining, analytics, processing, sales history, and reporting to make real-time decisions about production, effective business practices, and deficient business practices.

10 Benefits of Business Intelligence for Manufacturers

Here are a few reasons why leaders in the manufacturing industry employ Business Intelligence.


  1. Cut costs with solid numbers

Business Intelligence software provides managers and essential personnel with actual, real-time numbers to assist in making critical decisions about performance, inventory, businesses, changes, and daily operations. Meetings don’t have to include estimations and best-guesses when BI provides the accurate numbers about any facet of the business in question.


  1. Run and evaluate complex reports

Crunching the numbers doesn’t require piece-together analytical reports, pencils, and calculators. Now, BI provides manufacturing businesses with complex analytical tools and data instantly.


  1. Reconfigure daily business practices

An efficient workplace is a successful workplace, and BI provides the tools to ensure productivity and efficiency operate at max capacity. Instant access to analytics and reports allows businesses to make effective decisions about daily practices without wasting resources.


  1. Analyze raw data

Business Intelligence software provides the opportunity to better manage inventory, reconfigure marketing strategies, and make uniform decisions with raw data that can be tailored to the any specific business goal or need.


  1. Allows companies to run queries

Business leaders don’t have to shuffle through stacks of papers and data to figure out the answers, and they don’t have to run generic queries that don’t reveal the entire picture. BI allows essential leaders and departments to run specific queries about operations that improve profitable decision-making strategies.


  1. Identify new customer opportunities

Raw data and customized queries allow manufacturing companies to understand the consumer’s needs and future habits. This allows businesses to tailor services and attention while projecting for the long-term needs of new and existing consumers.


  1. Instant awareness into customer behavior and trends

BI does not force businesses to make guesses. It reveals sales and consumer trends daily, quarterly, or annually, depending on your specific need at the time. This assists in analyzing operating costs, inventory, and overhead immediately and in the future for better, more cost-effective planning.


  1. Identify opportunities to increases services and sales

Data and analytics help customer relations team identify the customer’s needs, many times before the consumer is aware of his/her own needs. The reporting intelligence identifies gaps and opportunities for cross-sales and up-sales to protect the consumer and keep them around longer.


  1. Organized workplace

Everyone can rest easy knowing communication and organization are on-point. An organized workplace eliminates mistakes and overhead, and it improves communication overall. BI software delivers any report and information to any device approved by essential personnel so the client and business always come first.


  1. Understand manufacturing and operating costs

Business IT provides specialized departments and mangers with evidence of the true manufacturing costs. This allows essential personnel to make changes to production that improves profits and retention.


What are your company’s biggest challenges? Write them down and talk to NSA to discover how Business Intelligence can relieve your biggest hurdles and business tasks.


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Tips for Success with Distributor Analytics: Pick the Right Tool

This is a guest post by Annie Eissler from MITS. NSA has partnered with MITS to provide our customers with a business intelligence solution that offers distributor analytics.


We’ve talked with a lot of wholesale distributors over the decades and have gleaned some real nuggets of wisdom along the way.  We’re happy to share some of these with you in our ‘tips for success with distributor analytics’ blog post series, and in our latest ebook.

The first tip is all about picking the right tool for the job. Imagine that you’re building an addition on to your house; you probably wouldn’t pass over your power tools for your grandfather’s hand planer and saw. Well, it’s just as critical to pick the right tool when you want to understand what’s happening in your wholesale distribution business.

Using the reporting tools that come with your ERP system to get business-critical information is like cutting each piece of lumber and banging in each nail by hand—slow, unprecise, and sometimes painful!  Some business intelligence solutions, even those supposedly designed for ERP reporting, still require a lot of costly and time-consuming hand work to get useful results.

Distributor Analytics Tools Provide Real-Time Insight

In an increasingly complex and competitive world you just can’t afford to wait days for reports, sift through mountains of paper, or spend days writing queries to get to a few nuggets of information. Your team needs real-time insight into the metrics that matter most for your business—and for that you need to break out the power tools. Tools like MITS Distributor Analytics, which sit on top of your ERP and deliver point and click access to your business information via role-based dashboards, scorecards, and reports.

The table below shows the key differences between an ERP system, general business intelligence software, and a solution like MITS—a package that is tailor made to deliver insight and value right ‘out of the box’ for wholesale distribution businesses like yours.

mits distributor analytics



distributor analytics

Tips for Success with Distributor Analytics: Make it Easy or No One Will Use it

This is a guest post by Annie Eissler from MITS. NSA has partnered with MITS to provide our customers with a business intelligence solution that offers distributor analytics.

It’s important to find the right tool set and use those tools to empower your team. Today we’ll talk about the importance of making the distributor business intelligence solution you roll out easy to use.

Although this tip may seem obvious, finding and implementing a distributor analytics solution that’s both powerful and easy to use is easier said than done for some wholesale distributors. Our customers often come to us after spending lots of time and money struggling with inadequate or antiquated reporting tools from their ERP vendor. Or worse yet having invested in a business intelligence solution that was just too complex for their team members to use—the vast majority of which are business people and not techies. Here’s how a sales exec at one of our customers put it:

“We effectively wanted something that we could intuitively manage our sales as salespeople. Most of us are sales-driven. I didn’t want to have a program where it took an IT geek to drive it.”

So what features should you look for in a distributor analytics solution to ensure that your team is not just willing and able, but excited to use it? Our customers tell us that the role-based dashboards, scorecards, and reports that we supply with MITS Distributor Analytics are key to driving adoption and ongoing usage.

distributor analytics


Make it easy for your team to see the big picture and drill down into the details behind it.

Ready to see how easy MITS distributor analytics is to use?

Attend a webinar with NSA and MITS, and we’ll give you a demo!

We’ll show you how to give all of your team point-and-click access to the information they need to make better decisions.


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Want to learn six other tips directly from distribution executives just like you?


Download our latest ebook “Seven Tips for Driving Change Through Analytics–Nuggets of Wisdom for Distributors From Distributors”.

MITS distributor analytics

Metrics That Matter: 2 Dashboards Every Distributor Should Have

This is a guest post about distributor analytics by Annie Eissler from MITS.

You can’t take corrective action if you don’t realize there is a problem. Our distributor analytics customers know that dashboards can help you uncover all sorts of problems (and opportunities!).

During last week’s featured webinar, MITS President, Gary Owen, shared his thoughts on 2 dashboards every distributor should have at their fingertips: an Executive Review Dashboard and a Product 360 Scorecard.

Here is the recording of the webinar in case you’d like to take a peek:

mits webinar dashboards


These two dashboards highlight a lot of the powerful data we’re adding to our distributor analytics solution.


NSA has partnered with MITS to deliver advanced distributor analytics for your ERP solution that will help you increase operational efficiency, improve inventory management, and enhance your business’s profitability.

Contact us if you would like a product demo or just find out more about how MITS and NSA are providing distributors with the tools you need to make better decisions.