Business intelligence is for everyone

Martin Craze of Applied Business says the best Intelligence tools deliver information for all to use.
By Martin Craze - Mar 2015

Martin Craze Applied Business

“Greentree moves BI out of the back-office financial system to become an operational user tool.”

Martin Craze
Applied Business Computers

There are two key imperatives driving businesses today: the need to make decisions faster, and the need to control costs. The best Intelligence tools offer the way to achieve both those goals – but only if the information they deliver is shared throughout the business.

The term “Business Intelligence” tends to be misleading these days. It’s often regarded as just a financial tool reserved for management – tracking the performance of the business, delivering monthly reports to senior managers and the board of directors.

True Intelligence is delivered not only to the managers, but also to the staff running a company’s day-to-day operations. This “Operational Intelligence” differs from “Business Intelligence” in both the type of information and the way it is delivered.

Martin Craze, Director of Greentree Partner Applied Business Computers, says lack of understanding means that the real value of Intelligence fails to register with too many businesses – and they in turn fail to reap the benefits.

Static, stale reports

“Intelligence is pretty much under-utilised in Britain’s medium-sized business sector,” says Martin. “Most of our clients don’t really have any dedicated Intelligence tools. What they do use is not dynamic; they ask their IT people for certain reports that provide a snapshot of the state of the business at a specific time in the past.”

Such reports are not only static; they can take days to have written. In today’s business world, that just won’t wash. A recent Aberdeen Group survey of business managers found that 42% of those questioned regularly needed data that would enable them to make a decision within the day. Twenty-eight percent said they needed information about business events within an hour of those events occurring.

To meet these demands, business intelligence needs to be agile, visual and interactive. Greentree IQ (powered by QlikView) is just such a tool.


“This solution is mind-blowing to most of our customer prospects,” says Martin, “and I relish going in to show it to people because I can see them thinking, ‘Gosh, is this available, is this the sort of information we can use?’.

“With IQ, a manager can map out those what-if scenarios,” Martin explains. “He doesn’t have to spend a week trying to calculate what would happen if he raised prices on certain items, or what a 2% across-the-board price increase in the next financial year would do to his bottom line – he can get it straight away with a few clicks.

“With instant access to live information, plus the ability to analyse and interpret it as you want, you can make more timely decisions that may yield significant improvements to the way the business operates. If you’ve got consultants, for example, you can ensure that each person is maximising the return on their time. You can measure costs against revenue, to determine if you’re making money on a job.

“And of course, the beauty of Greentree’s Intelligence is that it isn’t just IQ; it’s also 3D Live, the Workflow desktops and WebView – it’s really a number of tools within the application which we can apply in the right circumstance to meet the customer’s needs. Greentree essentially moves BI out of the back-office financial system to become an operational user tool.”

Data at the fingertips

3D Live is an Intelligence tool that can make life easier for everyone in the workplace, whatever they do. In the sales department or the warehouse, it can track the daily flow of goods and/or services, and the revenue derived from them. This is Operational Intelligence (OI).

With OI, the outstanding visual characteristics of 3D Live come into play. An order appears instantly on a screen in the warehouse, for picking, packing and despatch. Everyone concerned has visibility; the warehouse staff know the orders they’ve got to fulfil, the sales staff can see what’s been picked, and the invoice is generated only when everything is confirmed.

Saving time, eliminating errors in orders and reducing paperwork are all cost-control benefits achieved through good OI.

Professional tool for amateurs

Greentree takes pride in being user-friendly, which is why you don’t have to be an IT expert to configure it in order to get the BI/OI that you want. A Greentree Partner can show you the ropes, and with a little application, you can tweak it yourself.

“You can acquire some very meaningful analyses of all parts of the business using a tool like this,” Martin says. “It’s even simpler than basing it around something like Excel because it’s so easy to filter by any criteria: time, products, type of customer, the sales rep... whatever it happens to be.

“If you had any other monitoring tool like Crystal Reports, you’d have to be an experienced user, if not professional, whereas with Greentree, as long as you’ve been given the data set to work with, then anybody can use it. It can literally be your ‘self-service’ analysis and reporting tool.”

Read a 3D Live success story here.



Coming from a farming background, Martin started out when he set up a computer bureau specialising in agri-business enterprise management and payroll. His company, now known as Applied Business Computers, provides management information system support to around 100 UK-based businesses ranging from £3M – £40M turnover.

Martin enjoys cricket, rugby and skiing when he’s not working, although he confesses: “I’m not good at getting my work/life balance right, but I’m hoping that Greentree is the catalyst which can help me achieve this.”


Greentree paid for itself in half the time expected, and Bidwells credits it with boosting their competitiveness.

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