Erik Roelofs recently joined Soltius as a Solution Architect after more than a decade in Europe as a BI consultant, leading successful SAP Business Objects implementations for a range of global companies. Prior to joining Soltius, Erik was leading the Business Intelligence practice for Hewlett Packard in New Zealand and Australia.

Erik says that many businesses have implemented BI tools in the last decade without a coherent strategy and as a result, they have struggled to gain the expected returns. “It’s often because there is a gap between the IT and the business. BI initiatives were left to the IT department and because the business people weren’t involved, they lacked confidence in the business reports IT generated.

“There has been a lot of hype about BI, but without a business-led strategy the tools won’t deliver value.”

The SAP acquisition of Business Objects means there are now even greater opportunities for BI to add value to an organisation, he says.  “We can now turn the large amounts of information that exists in an ERP solution into a business advantage utilising tools such as SAP Business Objects Web Intelligence and SAP Business Objects Explorer, which is more important now than ever.”

In Europe, for example, retailers with loyalty cards programmes had been using Business Object to gain a competitive edge. “These loyalty cards are a fantastic source of information, but you have to make sense of the huge amounts of data it generates. With Business Objects, these companies are gaining extra value from the data by analysing customer behaviour and identify trends. They also use insights gained from their BI tools to optimise supply chains and cut costs.”

In the current economic climate, IT spend can only be justified if it generates revenue, says Erik, and BI solutions offer a good return if they are done properly. “Well-structured BI is the point of the spear where IT and the business meet.”