Welcome to the sixth issue of the Acumatica Reports Newsletter. This email goes out on the last day of every month.
I have been enjoying the Summer weather here in Columbus, although it has been raining a lot. Hopefully July will bring more sun. My wife and I took our kids (1 1/2 and 3 1/2) camping for the first time this past weekend. They had a great time and so did we. Our son enjoyed getting muddy and throwing sticks into the campfire while our daughter enjoyed running around and eating s’mores. We went to a place called Hocking Hills State Park, about an hour from Columbus. It was very beautiful and had a lot of cool things to see.
This Past Month
I have been getting more and more into Power BI and data visualization this month. Being from an Mathematics and Accounting background, I have always been a numbers person. But I am realizing more and more how important the presentation is. There is so much data available these days that you really have to be careful about “data overload” in your reports. The presentation of a report has a lot to do with how much it will actually get used.
The blog has suffered a little as a result, but I think I’m heading in the right direction by learning more about data visualization. Currently I am reading a book called Data Visualization For Dummies on my Kindle and I have more data visualization books in the queue. Summer is a great time to sit back and get some serious reading done.
Microsoft has been adding new features into Power BI at a very rapid pace. It is still in preview mode, but there is a new version expected this Summer with the goal of officially launching in the Fall. Acumatica is positioned to take advantage of all that Power BI has to offer because of the new OData functionality in Acumatica 5.1
At first I was skeptical about Power BI because I know that Excel has way more functionality. But Microsoft is investing heavily in Power BI and it is even easier to use than Excel so it has a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see how Excel and Power BI fit together moving forward. The nice thing is that you can use Power BI functionality in Excel so you can get comfortable with it. Then, once you are comfortable, you can leave Excel behind and go full Power BI.
If you would like to learn more about Power BI, there was a very informative webinar put on this month by my friends over at PowerPivotPro.com. The presentation is about 20 minutes with a lot of Q&A afterwards. Click here to see a recording of the webinar
I wanted to summarize the posts that I’ve done since the Acumatica OData announcement. Even though Summer has slowed me down a little, I do plan to continue along these style of posts, especially with Power BI.
- My essay on why the recent OData feature in Acumatica 5.1 is important. I talk about Excel and Power BI as reporting tools, but OData can be consumed by virtually any modern reporting tool.
- What role I think the Acumatica Report Designer should play in an organization. I classify Acumatica Report Designer, Crystal, and SSRS as “old school” reporting software. They still play a role, but a lot has changed in the past 2-3 years. Power BI, BI360, Adaptive Insights, MicroStrategy, Domo, Qlik, and Tableau all fall into what I consider to be the “new school” of reporting software. Business Intelligence software is no longer just for big companies.
- How to create a Generic Inquiry in Acumatica (the equivalent of Smart List in Dynamics GP). The last thing I do in this video is check a box. That little check box is what got added in Acumatica 5.1 and it is what allows you to connect to the data from Excel, Power BI, etc. Since Generic Inquiry is within the Acumatica application and not a SQL query outside of the application, it picks up security and only shows you the data that you have access to.
- Here is a super simple example of building an Excel report in Acumatica from an OData connection. This is nothing fancy at all, but at least you can see how easy it is to connect to Acumatica data from Excel.
- Carrying on from the previous link, I create a simple dashboard in Excel. Again, very simple here. You can do a lot of advanced things in Excel and you can get even more advanced when you start to use Power BI features. If you have ever heard of Analysis Services, OLAP, or Multi-Dimensional Cubes, that is what Power BI brings to the table. The nice thing about Power BI is that you get the power of those things, but the interface is Excel so you don’t have to be a computer programmer to use it.
- Here I talk about BI360 and compare it to another Excel-based 3rd party tool that works with Acumatica. This post was basically taken from the notes that I took when evaluating these two products for the company that I work for. We use Sage 500 ERP, but BI360 works with both Sage 500 ERP and Acumatica ERP.
This month 7 new people subscribed to the newsletter, bringing the total number of subscribers to 64.
This month, for the first time ever, the number of visitors to TimRodman.com surpassed 800 and the number of page views surpassed 2,000. Let’s see if we can hit 1,000 visitors in July!
Until Next Month…
Thanks for reading. And check your inbox for another newsletter issue on Friday, July 31st.