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Building Business Intelligence with NetSuite . . . and Excel?

Modern businesses now have access to more data about their customers, products, websites, social media presence—you name it—than ever before. There’s so much data available that if you’re not smart about how you manage and use it, your organization could drown in data. But harness it the right way (say, with a business intelligence or BI tool), and you could be on your way to pulling ahead of the competition and maximizing outcomes. 

Nowadays, a business must be informed by data in order to survive. This makes a BI tool really helpful in making decisions guided by a complete picture of its data, not just an anecdote, data sample, or worse, a “gut feeling.”

Chances are, you already know what a BI tool is and you’re just looking for ways to do business intelligence better. But if you’re newer to the BI game or need a refresher, in the most basic terms, BI tools are software, programs, and applications designed to help locate, retrieve, analyze, and document data. They’re designed to make your data flow manageable so you can turn unstructured data into something actionable. 

Now that review time is over, let’s get to the good stuff: How are you running business intelligence with your NetSuite data . . . and could there be a way to make it even easier? 

(The answer is: Of course. But we’ll get to that in a moment.)

Using NetSuite for Business Intelligence

We’ve established that business intelligence tools let you organize, view, and analyze your data in reports and dashboards. Sometimes you’ll see reports with a lot of graphs that refresh with recent data so decisions can be based on information that is as accurate as possible. 

Based on all that, NetSuite can be used for business intelligence, even if it’s not strictly marketed as a BI tool. NetSuite comes with a plethora of standard reports, KPIs, and dashboard templates. Mix and match those to create reports and insights using saved searches. (More on saved searches here, if you’d like some new tips and tricks to try!) 

While not built specifically as a business intelligence solution, NetSuite still has vast capabilities to give you the bulk of what you need reporting-wise with a little work. 

Flexibility with Layouts
NetSuite continues to add powerful apps like SuiteAnalytics to its library that let you pull more information into prebuilt and customizable templates to build what you need for business intelligence. Dashboards can be personalized to contain role-relevant data, KPIs, charts, and graph; however, there’s currently no drag-and-drop function to add fields from different modules and functions. SuiteAnalytics is included in the NetSuite platform license.

Sharing with non-NetSuite Users
Business intelligence reports often need to be shared across teams or even across the whole business. And what happens if any number of those colleagues aren’t NetSuite users? NetSuite offers the option to export everything to Excel, PDF, or Word so they can access. Which is a handy option. But it does mean that you will lose the dynamic updates to your business intelligence, as exports can only snapshot the data as it was the moment you clicked the export button.

Up-to-Date Refreshing
Want to share business intelligence info on a big screen in a planning meeting? Yes, you can do that. But make sure to designate someone to refresh everything regularly so you’re always looking at the most recent information. 

Including non-NetSuite Data
NetSuite can provide business intelligence and reporting on all the data it has in the form of dashboards and KPIs. Which is great. However, you’ll need to add a BI tool such as Power BI or the new paid Analytics Warehouse feature in NetSuite in order to connect data from disparate systems for a full picture of what’s going on.

Business Intelligence and NetSuite . . . and Excel

As we promised above, there is a way to make your NetSuite business intelligence even easier. And it starts with Excel.

Not Excel like the export process we already discussed. Excel like “we connected Excel to NetSuite in a way that lets you build, run, and share dynamic BI reports with anyone in the organization” kind of Excel. 

First, if you’ve been wishing for the ability to build a NetSuite dashboard BI report in Excel, your wishes have been granted. CloudExtend Excel for NetSuite is purpose-built to pull NetSuite data and saved searches right into Excel so that you can organize, chart, graph, and pivot data to your heart’s content. 

Not only that, it’s Excel. Everyone knows Excel. Which means everyone has Excel on their machines. And therefore, anyone in the company can open your business intelligence report, regardless of whether or not they have a NetSuite account, to view and interact with the NetSuite data. And did we mention the connection is dynamic? Which means each time the report is opened or refreshed, it pulls the latest data from NetSuite so you can be confident everyone is looking at the most recent and accurate information possible. 

Finally, since you’re building your NetSuite business intelligence report in Excel, you can include data from other systems. (Alternately, if you’d like to bulk upload that data from another source into NetSuite, CloudExtend can help you do that, too. And it’ll be faster and easier than a NetSuite CSV upload.)

So why not consider combining your NetSuite saved searches with the power and flexibility of Excel to create business intelligence insights that are easy to work with, easy to access, and easy to update for better decision-making? 

See what CloudExtend can do for your business intelligence needs. And try it for free, while you’re at it.