ROI, Customization, and Mobility
In my series so far, I've tackled questions about buying criteria, cloud BI vs. SaaS BI, and data management. Today is the last installment and tackles the remaining most common questions we hear from SMBs about business intelligence. This series is all about expediting and simplifying BI by dispelling myths and providing practical advice for moving beyond manual processes to automated reporting, dashboards and advanced analysis.
8) What's the ROI for business intelligence?
This is a question we're asked more often all the time, as SMBs know they need BI but struggle to justify the investment. BI vendors need to understand that SMBs can't invest in solutions that don't quickly generate returns.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of BI projects fail to meet the businesses' objectives. I don't bring that up to scare you away from BI, but instead to encourage you to ask the vendors on your shortlist for proof of their ROI. It's part of your due diligence when it comes to selecting the right vendor. First, ask them about their success rate. Do they have happy and long-term customers? As an example, the average tenure of arcplan's customers is more than 7 years, the longest of any vendor included in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence – an indicator of long-term customer satisfaction. How do the vendors on your short-list stack up?
The next step is to ask your vendor to estimate the ROI you should expect. Nucleus Research has found that successful BI and analytics projects yield a return of $10.66 for every dollar spent. At arcplan, we use an arcplan-powered application to calculate our customers' ROI. This takes into account the reduced time and resources required for reporting with an automated solution and other cost savings produced by our software. The vast majority of our customers see their arcplan investment pay for itself in one year or less.
9) Should we avoid BI software that needs to be customized?
Honestly, all BI software needs customization or configuration to some extent. Even if you choose a pre-built SaaS solution, you'll still need the system to connect to and understand your specific data properly. If you're like a lot of SMBs and trying to simply solve a specific business problem that requires an immediate or short-term solution, then that may be your best bet. If you'd rather create a long-term framework for your future business operations, then definitely consider customizable BI software. You'll be surprised at how quickly it can be implemented and how affordable it really is, especially if you do your requirements-gathering in advance of the project kickoff. arcplan's consultants always say that the longest portion of any project is gathering the requirements of all the stakeholders.
For more information, check out these blog articles:
• Debunking the Myths of BI Software Customization
• 5 Things You Can Look Forward To With Customizable BI Software
10) Do we need a plan for mobile BI?
The short answer is yes. Your company is likely contributing in some measure to the 1.3 billion mobile workers expected by 2015 – telecommuters, road warriors, and those working from home full- or part-time. As mobility gains momentum, you need to be prepared to meet the needs of the mobile workforce.
Luckily, mobile BI is easy to include in your BI strategy and pays dividends. Most BI platforms come with mobile BI embedded, like arcplan. I came across a customer last week who has been using arcplan dashboards on iPhones since 2008! Mobile licenses are usually very affordable and sometimes even free. And if you can develop reports and dashboards for PCs, you can develop them for mobile devices easily with a concept called Responsive Design. arcplan is a pioneer in this regard. With just a few clicks, you can publish BI apps to any tablet or smartphone. The app automatically adjusts to the screen size, resolution, and orientation of the end user’s device. It amounts to a time savings of 30% or more as compared to other vendors – time savings that means a lot to SMBs, whose IT resources are usually scarce and overloaded.
For more information, check out this blog article from arcplan's user interface designer: Responsive Design in Business Intelligence Applications. He explains why it's important now and shows what responsively designs BI can apps look like.
Thanks for sticking with me as I answered the top 10 questions we hear from SMBs when it comes to business intelligence. Let me know if there’s an 11th question I missed and I'll survey the experts at arcplan for a response! I hope you agree that though BI is a big investment and requires careful consideration, it’s more possible than ever for SMBs to get enterprise-level analysis to help you surpass your competition while improving decision-making and your bottom line.