Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

An Ode to Openness in Collaborative BI


2011 brought tons of news and speculation about the rise of mobile BI, which has given way to actual deployments in 2012 (an estimated 22% of companies using BI this year plan to implement mobile BI in 2012[1]). 2012 will bring news of the next wave: Collaborative BI, with an estimated 15% of BI applications to include collaborative aspects by 2013, according to Gartner[2]. I expect that number to be even higher as companies see the value of collaborative BI throughout this year and knowledge workers start clamoring for greater access to information to improve their decision making.

Click to enlarge. arcplan Engage includes content from any BI vendor in use at your enterprise.

I've pondered the impact of Collaborative BI before, but lately I've noticed that one aspect often left out of the conversation – open access to all BI content within an organization. Many analysts have been talking about various vendors' Collaborative BI platforms and accepting their silo'd approach, but I believe the silo story isn't healthy. Restricting content to one vendor’s BI reports and dashboards goes against everything that collaboration is about. To make the best decisions possible, employees require access to any and all data that can help them, regardless of whether it's housed in arcplan or a competitor's BI product, or even unstructured content like an e-mail or a document on an internal SharePoint portal.

Going further, user-contributed content has to be part of the "openness" mix. This means that IT has to loosen the grip on what is considered relevant BI content and allow users themselves to enrich the collaboration database with reports from the Web – like a lead dashboard for example. A marketing user may contribute such a report, but then a finance executive might find it helpful when evaluating the marketing budget for the next fiscal year. Content openness encourages more users to engage with the system, and as they rate and comment on reports, the best information rises to the top and becomes trusted sources of decision support.

If BI vendors really support collaborative decision making, they must make open access to both structured and unstructured content, stored in any system, a staple of their products as we have done with arcplan Engage.

If you're new to our blog, the premise (and promise) of arcplan has always been the integration of any number of data sources. For nearly two decades, we have natively connected to more than 20 data sources to allow our clients, for example, to pull financial and operational data together onto one report or dashboard. So it follows that our next-generation BI products would also incorporate this integration. As a smaller BI vendor, we're able to offer innovative, market-leading solutions that force other vendors to follow suit. Learn more about arcplan Engage, the only BI 2.0 product that incorporates data from multiple BI vendors, here on our website.


[1] According to The BI Survey 10 (BARC, October 2011).

[2] Who’s Who in Collaborative Decision Making (Gartner, September 2011).

Tiemo Winterkamp

About Tiemo Winterkamp

I'm the Senior VP of Global Marketing at arcplan and work out of our Langenfeld, Germany office. I've worked in Business Intelligence and data warehousing since 1994. You can connect with me on LinkedIn.
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