Power BI Gives Curio Wellness a Big Competitive Edge

In the highly competitive world of cannabis manufacturing, Curio Wellness has gained advantages by deploying a MaxQ Cannabis management solution that includes Power BI analytics. 

Brad Friedlander, CIO of Curio Wellness, described how his company is deriving a wealth of benefits from Power BI.

End-to-End BI Value

“Our executive team uses it for sales and key metrics, sales by customer, what products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars,” he explained. “We can view data in real time, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.”

Power BI is used to monitor and manage the entire business, including operations, sales, and marketing, said Friedlander, adding that this has resulted in better planning, decision making, and performance.

Overall, Power BI has given his company a huge competitive advantage, said Friedlander. “Most of our competitors are on QuickBooks,” he explained, “so they don’t have the ability to do what we do with Power BI.”

Using Power BI also has resulted in better customer satisfaction, he said. “It enables us to meet demand and keep customers happy, which is our number one priority.”

Expanded Use

Curio Wellness obtained Power BI as a standard component of the MaxQ Cannabis solution that is used to manage the company’s seed-to-sale cannabis operations.

However, as users worked with Power BI and discovered its potential, they desired to expand the range of analyses they were able to perform. MaxQ provided additional consulting and customization to enable Power BI to meet the users’ expanding needs.

Friedlander said he is continuously adding pages to Power BI to add functionality that enables the management team to view data in new ways.

Real-Time Advantages

The ability to continually monitor and analyze data in real time is a big part of the advantages the company is deriving from Power BI, Friedlander said. “We can refresh minute by minute and can see data coming from the field for sales and operations.”

Daily monitoring and analyzing of key metrics have enabled the operations and sales teams to make better decisions and change business outcomes, Friedlander said. “It’s allowed us to quickly see problem areas and address them immediately rather than at month’s end,” he explained.

For example, same-day analyses of sales data enable the company to adjust its product processing and packaging to meet market demand. “We can meet demand within a day,” said Friedlander. “When we harvest plants, we have strains that are cured and in the final stages of being packaged, so we can modify the rotation of strains to meet demand on any given day.”

Leveraging Key Metrics

Curio Wellness’s operations and sales teams use Power BI to track a variety of key metrics on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, Friedlander said. “We track many metrics,” he explained, “including sales by customer, sales by strain, dollars and weight sold, inventory on hand, and manufactured products. We also can see margins and selling price over any given period of time.”

Power BI helps the operations side keep in step with sales and marketing. “We can see the best-selling products in any given week, and modify our trimming and production schedules to meet the current demand,” Friedlander explained.

Power BI data also enables the sales and marketing teams to take steps to boost the sales of underperforming products. “We can see what’s selling and what isn’t, and we can put something on special or do special promotions for weaker selling products,” Friedlander added.

Power BI has proven to be fast, flexible, and easy to use, Friedlander said. “You can make changes on the fly, and you can look at the data in so many different ways.”

Production Optimization

On the operations side, Power BI enables the operations team to monitor production and gauge its efficiency. “We can see what yields are out of the garden and the gross weights and class of product that results from a crop,” Friedlander explained.

Power BI also enables the operations team to see how the crops that are harvested measure up to the planned production. “We can set the results we aim to hit for a crop, and we can see how well we have performed to hit that metric—for example, the percentage of flower that falls into upper tier, middle tier, and lower tier,” Friedlander explained.

The financial team uses the forecasting power of Power BI in the planning and budgeting process. “We can forecast relatively easily based on historical trends, including growth rates by customer, in quantity and dollars,” Friedlander explained. “We can see trends and apply those trends to our forecast for the next year.”

Limitless Potential

Friedlander said he could ever see a time when he could say the potential uses of Power BI had reached an end.“There are endless uses for this,”  he said. “It will continue to evolve to serve the business.”

The company currently is in the process of automating its Flash report, he said, which aggregates key metrics of entire business. “This will let users access data from a single source rather than dragging in data from multiple data sources, and the Flash report will be formatted for the purpose of visualizing the metrics,” he explained.

Going forward, Friedlander said the company plans to expand the use of Power BI in a number of ways, including creating customized dashboards for each team—executive, operations, sales, and marketing. “We also want to add the ability to analyze cost of sales, particularly on the cultivation side,” he said.

Better Than Expected

After using Power BI for a year, Friedlander said the tool had exceeded his expectations. “I love it,” he said, adding that, “I probably use it more than anybody on the team.”

Having never used Power BI before, Friedlander said he was surprised by the tools’ ease of use, ability to format data in many ways, and generally visualize data. “There’s a lot to like about Power BI,” he said. “It’s easy to create charts and visualize data in an appealing way. We use the mapping, which lets us see where the hotbed of activities is coming from.”

Is the company pleased with the return on investment in Power BI? “Absolutely,” said Friedlander. “The ability to get data in real time, and the amount of time you save in aggregating and reporting on data, you can’t put a value on that.”

Power BI has made life easier and benefited the business in numerous ways, said Friedlander, including better performance and decision making. “It also has given us a huge competitive advantage,” he added.

MaxQ Technologies provides state-of-the-art Power BI solutions and incorporates Power BI within advanced business solution suites. Contact us to learn more about Power BI and how your business could benefit from a Power BI solution.

 


MaxQ Cannabis Management Automation Works Wonders for Curio Wellness

In the complex world of cannabis manufacturing, the ability to manage operations efficiently and minimize costs can mean the difference between success and failure. Brad Friedlander, Curio Wellness CIO, described how his company has gained a major competitive advantage by employing MaxQ Cannabis to manage its cannabis operations. Growing high-grade cannabis and producing premium products requires careful management in all stages of the operation—including planning, cultivating, harvesting, testing, curing, extraction, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, inventory management, and sales. The MaxQ Cannabis management system has yielded benefits across all these areas by enabling Curio to operate with greater efficiency while minimizing costs, Friedlander said. Automated Product Data Management Automated product data management has yielded significant time and cost savings, said Friedlander. “We’ve created some standardization that enables us to create new parts and strains with ease from other data we have in the system,” he explained. When a new strain is entered into the system, all the associated parts are created automatically, including SKUs (stock keeping units), bills of materials, kits, and bundles for each of the products. Automated product data management creates all product data in a consistent, standard, and correct manner, greatly reducing errors caused by manual entry. “Just click a button and it creates the inventory items, kits, BOMs, and bundles automatically,” Friedlander explained. “The setup that would take hours manually, we do in 30 seconds.” Integrated Accounting Most competitors are running their business on QuickBooks and jumping between different accounting systems, said Friedlander. His observation agrees with that of cannabis accounting expert Andrew Hunzicker, who relates that many cannabis companies operating in this manner find themselves plagued with financial struggles stemming from the complexity of cannabis accounting, including cost controls within the growth, manufacturing, and retail phases, as well as compliance and tax issues. Best practices for controlling costs in the manufacturing and distribution of cannabis, Hunzicker explains, are stringent and integrated accounting, coupled with the use of advanced analytics to track costs, perform forecasts, and maximize efficiency. The integrated accounting of MaxQ Cannabis, coupled with Power BI analytics, provides all these advantages, including easy data entry and data handling, with changes that ripple through the system automatically, said Friedlander. This saves time and labor and eliminates error, he explained. “The integrated accounting, data handling, cost tracking, and auditing are huge advantages,” Friedlander said. Cost Tracking The ability to produce cannabis products at the lowest possible cost is critical. Automated cost tracking within MaxQ Cannabis enables Curio Wellness to track its costs across all phases of its operation. “The ability to track costs is a huge one,” said Friedlander. The system enables the company to track the cost of inventory by automating the process of accumulating cost into inventory, he explained. “We can see historical data that we can’t see in the regular tracking system,” said Friedlander. “It helps us to understand costs and control them.” Product Traceability Automated product tracking is another key feature that helps Curio Wellness increase efficiency while reducing costs. The MaxQ Cannabis management system enables Curio Wellness to trace any product back to its origin with ease, said Friedlander. “It gives us full traceability,” he explained. “If there is an issue with a product, we can trace it back to the batch in which it was created and who we sold it to with ease.” Comprehensive product tracking and traceability enable Curio Wellness to stay fully compliant and auditable for any government agency that requires compliance information, Friedlander said. Quality Control The MaxQ Cannabis system automation also streamlines the lab testing process, including automated uploading of lab results and printing of labels for each of Curio Wellness’s products. The system will store the Certificate of Analysis (COA) and automatically generate labels from lab results. When products are shipped to customers, the lab results certificate will be mailed automatically with the invoice. “The system automates the processing of the lab reports for each product for each customer for every order,” said Friedlander. “The handling of lab results and label printing is completely automated, a process that was very time consuming in the past.” Analytics Advance Business Curio Wellness acquired Power BI analytics as a standard component of the MaxQ Cannabis system. Friedlander said Power BI is used to monitor and manage the entire business, including operations, sales, and marketing. “Our whole executive team uses it for sales and key metrics, sales by customer, what products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars,” he explained. “We can view data in real time, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.” Using Power BI in conjunction with MaxQ Cannabis has resulted in better planning, decision making, performance, and customer satisfaction, he said. The executive team uses Power BI to monitor key metrics, including sales by customer, which products are trending, how things are selling within categories, in both quantity and dollars, Friedlander explained. The ability to monitor and analyze key metrics in real time have enabled the operations and sales teams to make better decisions and change business outcomes, Friedlander said. “It’s allowed us to quickly see problem areas and address them immediately rather than at month’s end,” he explained. “Most of our competitors are on QuickBooks,” Friedlander explained, “so they don’t have the ability to do what we do with Power BI. It’s a big competitive advantage.” Ongoing Improvement Curio Wellness works with MaxQ to extend the system’s capabilities and refine processes in ways that will yield even greater efficiency, Friedlander said. Plans include automating the harvesting of crops with integrated RFID readers, as well as adding a host of new Power BI features. Has MaxQ Cannabis delivered the efficiency and cost control benefits he had hoped it would? “Absolutely,” said Friedlander. “The system not only enables us to operate more efficiently, it gives us a huge advantage over our competitors.” As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry.   

Using Acumatica Import with an Alternate Key

When importing data into Acumatica using the Integration tools, I was under the impression you needed to have the key to a record in your data to update the existing record. Thankfully, I was wrong and Acumatica provides an easy way to do this, when you know the secret…

A good example of how to resolve this issue is the way the MaxQ Cannabis solution reconciles lab testing records. In MaxQ Cannabis, there is a form that allows a user to track the testing of different products by their lot number. As required by law, these lots need to be tested by a certified independent lab. The lab technician will go onsite and take a small sample of the lot to be tested, and in doing so creates a new lot number for the sample. The lab will test the sample and report the results by using its lot number, hence the issue. We need to use the lab’s lot number to find the correct lab results record to update the test results (see image below).

As you can see, we have the Lab Package Tag (Acumatica Lot Number) as a field on the lab report and need to update the Lab Result ID for record id 00000012.

The Lab Package Tag is part of the Lab Results Selector. We need to add some special lines to the import scenario to accomplish this. Notice the first three lines of the image below. We are telling the import scenario to use the Lab Package Tag to look up the Lab Results ID and update the data.

More information on this importing technique can be found in the Acumatica I100 Integration Training Guide section “Updating Auto-Numbered Records by a Selector Column (Customers).”

Note: To use fields that are not part of the id’s selector, you can use the special @@ method (shown below). This is documented in the Acumatica I100 Integration Training Guide section called “Updating Auto-Numbered Records by Custom Key (Customers).”

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industriesContact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.


For APTMetrics, Power BI Is a Gift That Keeps on Giving

To say that Power BI has been a game-changer for HR consulting firm APTMetrics may be an understatement, according to CFO Marty Kelly.

Kelly credits Power BI with not only improving his company’s performance, but with making his job and those of his co-workers an order of magnitude easier and more efficient.

APTMetrics’ primary business is assessment-centered talent management solutions. Kelly says Power BI has yielded benefits across all areas of the business, including finance, marketing, sales, and operations, allowing for the consolidation of information across multiple disciplines. The scope of Power BI’s potential uses is limitless, he said.

Kelly took advantage of MaxQ’s Power BI expertise to implement a solution that matched his business needs and made it easy for his team to access data from multiple sources, view and manipulate the data, generate reports, and perform an unlimited range of analyses.

Changing Outcomes

Although Power BI was deployed initially for managing accounting in the financial department, Kelly said the solution’s flexibility has provided a host of unexpected benefits.

For instance, Kelly said he now can take snapshots of the consulting business via Power BI and know much earlier in the month how well the company is doing. By monitoring and managing the project allocation of the company’s 40 consultants, he can make adjustments that improve business outcomes, something he could not do in the past.

Using Power BI, Kelly said, he can view up-to-the-minute information as the consultants input their time and project data into the shared system. “If I know a week-and-a-half into a four-week month that I am falling short,” he explained, “I can call the consulting officer and get people more billable hours.

More Effective Financial Management

Power BI also has enabled Kelly to manage the company’s financials in new and more effective ways. “I use Power BI for in-depth financial analysis, database management and querying, and to create graphical presentations in support of the company’s business model,” he explained.

Power BI is extremely fast and flexible, said Kelly, enabling him to access and analyze data and respond to business issues faster than in the past. It also enables him to delve into financial data to pull up sophisticated financial extracts and generate reports from multiple databases with relative ease.

“I can slice the data in unlimited ways to meet the needs and requests for analytics,” he said, “and I don’t have to distribute reports because people can access shared Power BI reports.”

Power BI also has made forecasting more accurate and reliable, Kelly said, as well as easier to perform. “With ten days of information, I’ll nail the forecast for the month,” he explained. “What used to take four hours, I can now do in ten minutes.”

A Wealth of BI Benefits

Besides better financial management and forecasting, Kelly said Power BI makes it easy to create and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) for marketing, sales, and the company’s financials. Power BI also enables him to analyze detailed project lines of business and to better understand the company’s customers in terms of revenues and profitability.

In addition, Kelly said he uses Power BI to generate “Flash” reports covering key aspects of the company’s revenue stream—consulting hours, assessments delivered, and how many tests were administered on the IT platform side.

Power BI enables him to nest multiple layers of data, which consultants and other teams can then expand, collapse, button, unbutton, and drill down into.

Everyone in the Power BI Pool

Initially used only by Kelly and his financial staff, the use of Power BI is quickly expanding to support the entire company, including three businesses (consulting, assessment practice, and IT platform for high-volume testing), business partners, the APTMetrics sales staff, and the executive team.

Power BI plays a huge role in the annual financial plan, Kelly said, enabling him to manage the yearly results of the business more effectively. After budgeting and forecasting for the full year, he can refine the plan in real time as the year progresses. “I can see how sales activity is turning into business,” he explained, “and I can more easily compare actual financial data with the full-year plan.”

Kelly also uses Power BI to calculate sales incentives, prepare supplemental financial information for the company’s CPA, and support pipeline activities. “With Power BI I can see whether we are back on a sales cycle and if there is too much quiet time. If we haven’t heard from a customer in a while, it’s time to contact them.”

Accessing data to generate reports has become easier with Power BI, Kelly said, eliminating the need to compile data in Excel and run reports from Microsoft Dynamics. “I used to have to drag a Crystal report into a database or do a direct query from the Dynamics tables and mine those. Power BI is much faster and more efficient.”

Installation a Breeze

Kelly also had praise for the ease with which he and his team could begin using Power BI, and for the MaxQ team who installed and configured the Power BI solution. Once the MaxQ team understood APTMetric’s requirements, he said, they were able to write the formulas, connect the data sources, and have Kelly and his team up and running in two days.

“For setup, we needed help from the folks at MaxQ,” said Kelly. “But once it was set up, we haven’t needed much help afterwards, just an hour of consulting support from time to time.”

Only the Beginning

After one year of using Power BI, Kelly says his company is just getting started. “We addressed key business needs first, but we haven’t come anywhere close to tapping Power BI’s capabilities.”

A big benefit has come from requiring less people to do the work, said Kelly. “If I didn’t’ have these tools, I’d have a million people doing all these tasks. With Power BI, I need less professionals to get the work done, and the work is more efficient and accurate.”

Has Power BI exceeded his expectations? “Absolutely,” said Kelly. “The cost is low and the value for the money is amazing. Every day we see new ways to use the tool. It keeps giving more value.”

Has it made the business more profitable? “Yes. More forward looking, efficient, and profitable.”

“I’m a big fan,” said Kelly. “I have yet to see a downside to it.”

MaxQ Technologies provides state-of-the-art Power BI solutions and incorporates Power BI within advanced business solution suites. Contact us to learn more about Power BI and how your business could benefit from a Power BI solution.


How to Fix Incorrect Purchase Receipt Accruals

                                    In this series, we answer real-life questions from Acumatica users

QUESTION:  I have a variance in my PO accrual report. How do I correct it?

ANSWER:  If you have a report in which there is an accrual account difference, the cause may be multiple Reversals of AP Bills. If this is the case, here is how to resolve it:

First, if you perform a Reverse Action in an AP Bill created from a PO Receipt, as shown below:

Please note that the system provides a warning:

If you continue, all links to the PO Receipt are carried over to the Debit Adjustment (highlighted below):

Unfortunately, there is no restriction to the number of times the AP Bill Reversal Action can be performed, allowing, in this example, creation of a second Debit Adjustment tied to the same PO Receipt:

When the Debit Adjustments are released, the result is double Unbilled Quantities and Unbilled Amounts in the Purchase Receipt Accrual Details report:

RESOLUTION

It is not apparent how to correct this error. You can do so by creating a new AP Bill against the PO Receipt:

The system will take all documents associated with the Receipt into account and create a net Bill, i.e., double the Quantities and Amounts, as shown in this example:

Once the Bill has been released, the PO Receipt has been cleared from the report:

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industriesContact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.


Kudos for Acumatica: Champion ERP and MaxQ’s Solution Platform of Choice

MaxQ chose Acumatica ERP as the platform on which to build advanced business solutions because of its modern cloud-based design, integrated architecture, comprehensive feature set, user-friendly interface, advanced automation capabilities, and more.

It is therefore satisfying to see these same qualities recognized and validated by analysts and product reviewers in their evaluations of Acumatica.

Among the sterling reviews Acumatica received this year, PC Magazine UK  found Acumatica to be best in class, with the reviewer giving Acumatica a rating of “Excellent” as well as the Editors’ Choice Award.

The PC Magazine review found that “Acumatica’s intuitive design, enterprise scalability, and flexible pricing model help make Acumatica an excellent choice for enterprise resource planning, general ledger accounting, and inventory management.” 

Acumatica’s browser-based user experience (UX), said the review, “is excellent, with a feature-rich environment accessible via an intuitive user interface (UI).”

Top of the Leaderboard

Nucleus Research also found Acumatica to be a top-tier ERP leader in its recently released “ERP Technology Value Matrix” report. The report placed Acumatica atop the Leaders quadrant and praised Acumatica’s continuing refinement of its platform, finding that “high usability and flexibility are at the center of Acumatica’s development philosophy” as it continues to add features and automate processes.

Acumatica, said the report, “continues to lead the way in usability, serving several industry verticals, including commerce, manufacturing, and field service.” Nucleus also gave Acumatica accolades for its responsiveness to customers and focus on providing rich mobile capabilities.

Nucleus found that Acumatica’s latest version, released in September, “is bringing a host of incremental improvements to each of its vertical solutions focused on increasing customer satisfaction.”

Acumatica Shines at Summit 2018

IDC attended Acumatica’s Summit 2018 and spoke with company executives and customers. In its report on the Summit, IDC gave Acumatica high marks for its technology and customer satisfaction, finding that Acumatica has added “a significant number of new features and functionality with the release of Acumatica 2018 R1.” Based on interviews with Acumatica customers, IDC said it believed “Acumatica is well aligned with the market in terms of added features, channel momentum, and strategic road map updates.”

Like PC Magazine and Nucleus Research, IDC praised Acumatica for listening to its customers and making improvements to the Acumatica ERP platform based on customer feedback. Acumatica, said IDC, “took great effort to incorporate customer feedback into 2018 R1 even down to relatively small details like reducing the number of clicks while building a report in the financial suite.” This, said IDC, represents a granular level of focus on both customers and technology that will continue to help advance growth quickly.

IDC found that the value Acumatica was providing to its customers was reflected in its excellent revenue and growth numbers, including 144% net-new revenue growth while reaching the 4,000-customer mark in 2017. In addition, said IDC, Acumatica saw 90% year-over-year growth from its parent channel, indicating “building momentum and energy related to its solution.”

Exclusive Club

A report by Mint Jutras, a research and advisory firm that specializes in evaluating ERP solutions, found Acumatica to be an outstanding solution, citing four key elements that significantly differentiate Acumatica from its competitors:

  • The ability to access the solution from anywhere, on any device.
  • A flexible deployment model, allowing the customer to choose public cloud, private cloud or licensed on premise.
  • Modern consumption-based licensing meant to be affordable and inclusive of all designated employees as well as key customers and partners.
  • A connected cloud platform that aids in extending the solution without creating islands of automation.

As Mint Jutras noted, while there are vendors that can make a similar claim for one of these differentiators, “if we combine all four, Acumatica is indeed in a class all by itself.”

MaxQ + Acumatica = Unbeatable Value

Acumatica’s openness and flexibility have enabled MaxQ to create a framework on which we are able to extend the value of Acumatica and tailor solutions to specific industries and applications.

MaxQ solutions built on the Acumatica framework include Advanced Revenue Management, Advanced Billing, Inventory Management, and a Cannabis Management Solution that can handle the most demanding needs of large-scale cannabis manufacturers.

For all the reasons noted by the analysts and reviewers above, MaxQ’s many satisfied customers would agree that a MaxQ solution based on Acumatica offers outstanding value. To see what all the fuss is about, we invite you to see firsthand what a MaxQ Acumatica solution could do for your business.

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industriesContact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.

 


What’s So Special About Power BI?

In previous blogs we showed how businesses were benefiting from Power BI in ways that were not possible previously.

What makes Power BI such a revolutionary analytical solution are  technology innovations that were introduced in Excel.

As Gil Raviv notes, Power BI, Excel, and SQL Server Analysis Services share the same analytics engine, Power Pivot, which was introduced as the PowerPivot add-in to Excel 2010. Power Pivot, says Raviv, is “a game changer in self-service BI.”

High-Performance Engine

Power Pivot is based on an in-memory technology called VertiPaq, which arranges data into columns and compresses it to speed performance. In-memory computing speeds processing by storing data in RAM rather than on slower-performing disks.

As Microsoft explains, Power Pivot is a data modeling tool that works hand in hand with Power Query, a data extraction and transformation engine that began life as Data Explorer. Power Query enables you to discover, import, and merge data from any number of sources, while Power Pivot enables you to model, manipulate, and operate on the data you have imported.

Power Query can be embedded in Excel or the Power BI Desktop, and the tool can load a data set into an Excel spreadsheet or into Power Pivot for data modelling.

Power BI Ecosystem

The story gets even better. The tight integration between Power BI and Excel, which extends to Azure, Office 365, SQL Server, and other Microsoft technologies, creates an ecosystem that makes Power BI a flexible and formidable analytical tool.

Power BI and Excel also share the Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) language, which can be used to create formulas to operate on your data. DAX runs on top of the VertiPaq engine, whose official name is the “xVelocity in-memory Analytical Engine.”

You can apply DAX formulas to columns of data to perform calculations. For example, you can use DAX to calculate anticipated sales based on a percentage increase over last year’s sales, or to calculate sales rank or customer rank by sales. You also can perform time analysis functions such as year-to-date sales, actual sales vs. targeted sales, and current sales.

Automating Analyses

Power BI provides a host of features to simplify and speed up analytical operations. You can use Calculated Columns, which are formulas that are applied to joined columns of data. For example, you can calculate profits by joining sales and costs columns.

You also can use Measures, which are formulas that are applied dynamically to perform calculations as you interact with your reports. Measures are typically used to calculate aggregations such as average sales amount or average sales by region.

You can use Power BI to track your business’s sales and marketing performance by creating key performance indicators (KPIs) that enable you to evaluate the current value and status of a metric against a defined target. The KPIs can be updated automatically and the data can be visualized for easy understanding.

You also can use Power BI’s Quick Insights feature to evoke a machine learning engine that will instantly apply algorithms to your data sets to discover hidden insights such as correlations, outliers, and trends.

Data Visualization

Another core strength of Power BI is the tool’s data visualization capability.  As Gil Raviv notes, Microsoft built an HTML 5 compliant visualization engine for Power BI that can slice and dice data in any direction and provide visualizations of the results.

Besides enabling a myriad of visualizations out of the box, Power BI has a library of custom visualizations users can draw upon. This highlights another strength of Power BI: the large and growing user community that contributes to the ongoing innovation centered on Power BI as it evolves.

Advanced Analytics

Power BI accommodates a wide spectrum of users, enabling novice users to work at a basic level, while enabling more sophisticated users to work within the Power BI Desktop to employ formulas and perform complex calculations and analyses.

Power BI enables small and mid-size organizations to gain the advantages of advanced analytics that were beyond their scope in the past. This includes visualizing predictive analytics that can employed using Power BI linked to Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

Predictive analytics can be used to optimize marketing and sales initiatives, such as predicting how customers will respond to new products, as well as helping to identify the best channels and messaging for campaigns. Machine learning can help identify potential customers, personalize marketing approaches, predict customer churn, and much more.

Real-Time Analytics

As Microsoft explains, Power BI also lets you access real-time information, which can be used to identify trends, optimize pricing, and take advantage of market opportunities that arise. Power BI and Azure Steam Analytics can be combined to create real-time IoT dashboards for monitoring sensors. Uses include tracking and monitoring instruments, devices, packages, greenhouse environments, market fluctuations, and real-time monitoring of machinery data streams that can be analyzed to predict failure.

Microsoft has done an excellent job of making it easy and affordable for non-technical users and power users to gain the benefits of enterprise-grade analytics. And with the continual contributions of the Power BI community, the story grows better day by day.

MaxQ Technologies provides state-of-the-art Power BI solutions and incorporates Power BI within advanced business solution suites. Contact us to learn more about Power BI and how your business could benefit from a Power BI solution.

 


New Feature in Advanced Billing: Generate Date Calculation

In the upcoming Release 18 of Advanced Billing for Acumatica, we added a requested feature for calculating a “generate date” based on the contract terms. If you have contract invoice terms of 30 days, meaning the bill is due 30 days after the invoice date, and you want to have the due date entered as the date of the generated invoice, the Advanced Billing system will calculate the date for you.

First, enter a contract and set the terms to 30 Days. Make sure “Back Off Generation Date by Term Date” is checked.

Next, Auto Generate Billing Schedule.

Contract schedules are created with the correctly calculated dates. Notice the beginning date of the contract and distribution period is still 8/1/2018, but the generation date has been recalculated to be 7/2/2018, so the due date of the invoice will be 8/1/2018.

MaxQ is a provider of advanced Acumatica business solutions across a wide range of applications and industries

Contact us to learn more about how MaxQ for Acumatica solutions can help your business.


Power BI Gives Businesses Super Powers

Since Microsoft’s Power BI launched as part of Office 365 in July 2013, it has evolved at a rapid pace and blossomed into a full-blown feature-rich modern business intelligence tool.

In July 2015, Power BI had 45,000 users worldwide. Today that number has grown to more than 5 million users.

What makes Power BI such a compelling business tool is a combination of strong data visualization capabilities, ease of use, and affordability (starting at free, with a Pro version priced at $10 per user per month). Moreover, Power BI can be accessed from the cloud, run as a desktop app, embedded in applications, integrated with other business planning tools, and optimized for mobile devices.

BI Barriers Fall

Years ago, obtaining the capabilities that Power BI provides required complex and expensive systems that had to be implemented by specially trained data scientists. A data scientist would develop a design concept and hope it would deliver the results you desired. Because of the cost, complexity, and specialized skill requirements, only the largest enterprises with the deepest pockets could afford these types of BI systems.

Power BI has changed the game, enabling small and midsize organizations to perform analyses and visualize data in ways that previously were prohibitively complex and expensive. Rather than the long development periods required to build these systems in the past (often weeks, months, and years), users can get accurate and actionable results in only a few hours. Moreover, real-time updates can be used to enable business managers to leverage a continual flow of insights.

Seeing how Power BI has been deployed by real-life companies shows the benefits that can be gained, as well as the ease and speed with which a Power BI application can be set up and immediately begin delivering useful insights.

Real-Time Insights Pay Dividends

Pizza Express in the UK was able to gain real-time insights and improve its business operations by deploying Power BI. As part of its strategy to expand worldwide, the company migrated all its data to the Azure cloud, created a data warehouse, and began using the data to make decisions based on its customers’ preferences.

Real-time monitoring comes from a tool called Event Stream that was built using Microsoft Event Hub and Data Factory. Besides giving managers an up-to-the-minute view of the business, it allows Pizza Express to track customer activity and make personalized offers. While in the past, building a tool like this would have been complex and time-consuming, Pizza Express was able to set it quickly using ready-made Microsoft tools.

Power BI has enabled Pizza Express to aggregate sales, customer, and operational data that used to reside in different places. The system enables the management team to combine all its key performance indicators (KPIs) to gain a comprehensive look at the company’s sales data, customer preferences, and profitability. Thirty regional managers can access the performance data on mobile devices to view results by region, area, and individual restaurant.

As Pizza Express IT director Siobhan Fagan noted, having precise information on demand means the company can be agile, decisive, and respond much better to its customers.

Better Management Through Power BI

The use of Power BI by Howell-Jones, a law firm in the UK, shows how not only law firms, but many types of agencies, can benefit from Power BI. As Howell-Jones operations director Chris Cato notes, personalized dashboards with complex data could be spun up in minutes by non-IT staff to deliver insights throughout the firm. Team leaders could use Power BI to manage caseloads across entire teams, distributing work to maximize collective output.

The Howell-Jones management team was able to generate high-level visual reports that were updated in real-time, which they could drill down into to analyze all aspects of the business, such as lawyer’s workloads, fees vs. targets, billable hours vs. targets, time from enquiry to billing, cross-department work referrals, and more. In addition, financial insights that previously were available exclusively to the management team could be surfaced and shared around the business.

The marketing team could see real-time inquiries and divert spending to take advantage of opportunities as they arose. The marketers also could drill into the data to refine their strategy based on the results of individual campaigns, how initiatives converted to new clients, and the lifetime value of marketing investments.

New Doors Open  

As these case studies show, Power BI is a game changer, making possible analyses and visualizations that had previously been too difficult and too expensive for most businesses. While the examples above involve the hospitality and legal sectors, the same techniques can be applied to any type of business to realize similar benefits.

We’ll continue looking at how Power BI is unlocking new possibilities across various industries in future posts.

MaxQ Technologies provides state-of-the-art Power BI solutions and incorporates Power BI within advanced business solution suites. Contact us to learn more about Power BI and how your business could benefit from a Power BI solution.

 

 


Cannabis Market Goes Ballistic

We knew the cannabis market was hot, but the latest studies show the cannabis industry skyrocketing beyond analysts’ previous expectations. Surprised that legalization and demand are expanding the cannabis market at such an accelerated pace, analysts are scrambling to revise their projections upward.

“While it seems every year means a new monstrous projection about the size of the cannabis market, this year’s projection is especially large,” cannibisnow.com reports.

The latest “State of Legal Marijuana Markets” report by Arcview Group and BDS Analytics, which cannibisnow.com considers the “gold standard of marijuana industry data research,” shows the global legal cannabis industry tripling over the next five years, reaching $32 billion by 2022.

Cowen & Co. sees even bigger growth, raising its estimate of the legal cannabis market by a whopping $25 billion and projecting the cannabis industry will hit $75 billion in sales by 2030. Cowen says that its previous forecast of a total cannabis market of $50 billion by 2026 is no longer valid because “new forecasts suggest that the market is already that size.”

Grand View Research’s recent study sees the global medical marijuana market reaching a value of $55.8 billion by 2025. Over the past few years, the number of companies operating in the cannabis market has increased exponentially, the study says, and the market is expected to expand significantly because of legalization in several countries and the high demand for medical and recreational cannabis.

Legalization Drives Expansion

Even these bullish forecasts pale in comparison with that of European investment bank Bryan, Garnier & Co., which sees the legal global cannabis market poised for growth of more than 1,000% over the next decade, reaching $140 billion by 2027.

Legalization seems to be creating its own momentum, the report says, citing the legalization of cannabis worldwide as the driver behind a “rapidly expanding industry.”

Similarly, Market News Updates reports that the international cannabis industry “continues to blaze red hot” based on the findings of the Brightfield Group, which sees the market growing at a compound annual growth rate of 60% each year and reaching more than $30 billion by 2021. As with other market analysts, the Brightfield Group sees deregulation and increased consumer interest as the driving factors.

Surprising Global Growth

Arcview VP David Abernathy said the most surprising thing contributing to the cannabis market’s accelerated growth this year was the rise of international markets. Arcview analyst Tom Adams agreed, arguing that Germany’s move to make cannabis flower available for medical use in pharmacies was the big news of 2017 from a worldwide perspective. “The tables have turned in favor of legalization across the world,” said Adams.

Grand View Research sees Europe eclipsing North America as the largest market for legal cannabis by the end of its forecast period, with a 55.6% share in 2025. Arcview voiced a similar view, noting that Europe, which has 739 million people and more than $1.5 trillion in healthcare spending, has the potential to be the largest medical cannabis market in the world. South America and Australia also are seen as large burgeoning markets.

As money.cnn.com reports, the game is about to get a lot bigger as more and more North American territories join the legal cannabis market. In California alone, the opening of recreational dispensaries in January boosted the pool of legal marijuana users from 17 million to 47 million.

Analysts see the North American cannabis market accelerating further in 2018 as legal markets begin taking off in Canada, Massachusetts, Florida, and Nevada, with Maine, Vermont, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and very likely New Jersey, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Arizona following suit.

Pot Tops Soda Pop

In sizing up the surging cannabis market, Bloomberg observes that sales of legal marijuana are projected to eclipse those of soda pop in 2030 based on Cowen & Co.’s projection that the U.S. legal cannabis industry will reach $75 billion in sales by 2030.

Comparing cannabis with other commodity markets, a case can be made for the cannabis market being larger than that of corn, cotton, wheat, and coffee based on UN data that valued the illegal cannabis market at more than $140 billion in 2003. The global market for coffee, which is one of the world’s most valuable commodities, is valued at about $100 billion per year.

Follow the Money

Another sign of the cannabis market’s surging value are the steeply climbing valuations of publicly traded cannabis companies like Canopy Growth Corporation, whose stock price has risen from $1 to $24, an increase of 2,081%, over the last two years. As Wealth Daily notes, marijuana is no longer an underground drug pedaled by criminals, rather “a viable industry that’s making investors an absolute fortune.”

As cannabis legalization becomes more widespread and cannabis production increases, the price of cannabis will continue to drop, which will continue to put pressure on manufacturers’ margins. Since 2015, the wholesale price of marijuana has fallen from around $2,100 per pound to $1,600 per pound.

For cannabis manufacturers, competition will intensify as investment dollars pour in and more producers enter the market, causing margins to shrink even further. Besides successful branding, manufacturers will look to gain competitive advantages by employing advanced cultivation technologies and cannabis management systems that streamline operations, control costs, and maximize efficiency.

As the maker of the most modern, integrated, and scalable cannabis manufacturing solution, MaxQ has deep cannabis industry expertise. Contact us to learn more about the latest trends and management solutions in the cannabis manufacturing industry.