Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Better Planning Through Business Analytics


In past articles I've written here on arcplan's BI Blog, I explored the role of spreadsheets in the planning, budgeting, and forecasting process and the importance of agility and accuracy. Today I would like to talk about the benefits of business analytics in the planning process when it comes to providing agility and accuracy.

When forecasts are consistently accurate, business leaders can have more confidence when making decisions and investments to guide the organization, as they have a good idea of how the organization will perform in the coming months. Agility is essential because volatile markets make it difficult for forecasts to reflect current business conditions. Therefore, Best-in-Class organizations are more likely than All Others to implement technology to enable both data access and the ability to utilize data to make predictive decisions (Figure 1). Fifty percent (50%) of Best-in-Class organizations have implemented an enterprise-level BI solution in comparison to 28% of All Others. These tools provide data in an easily consumable format so employees can find and utilize the data they need to make decisions. The Best-in-Class are also over twice as likely as All Others to have implemented predictive analytics. This technology helps to convert BI data into forward-looking forecasts.

Figure 1: Best-in-Class Technology Adoption


Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2013

Implementing these technologies enables organizations to better utilize data in planning, budgeting, and forecasting. Compare organizations with BI to organizations without BI. Those with BI are more likely to be able to incorporate business drivers in the ongoing forecasting process (Figure 2). Therefore, they are better able to understand the performance metrics that affect the organization, as well as their potential impact. Rather than simply projecting a standard percentage increase for sales, business leaders can instead integrate some real knowledge into the process. As an example of how BI helps to impact an organization's ability to integrate business drivers, note that 68% of organizations with BI have the ability to identify performance by product line, sales person, or business unit.

Figure 2: Better Data Utilization


Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2013

When it comes to thinking ahead, organizations with BI are 51% more likely than those without to have the ability to perform "what if" scenarios. These organizations can mix and match different potentialities and include them within forecasts. For example, are certain products more profitable than others? Organizations that have implemented BI may be more likely to know the answer to this question because 78% of them have the ability to perform a profitability analysis. Additionally, this impacts agility since decision-makers can build contingency plans and aid themselves with the ability to immediately trigger changes in the forecast.

But what are the actual results when it comes to decision-making? In organizations with BI, 72% of key stakeholders have access to financial performance data. Therefore, the planning process can become more collaborative. Further, organizations with BI are more likely than those without to actually provide the data in the time needed by those managers. So providing data to more employees when they need it will impact how agile the organization can be when altering plans. This is evidenced by the fact that organizations with BI saw a 15% decrease in time-to-decision over the past year in comparison to 11% for organizations without BI. And of course, this accuracy and efficiency impacts the bottom line when it comes to revenue and operating margins.

Table 1: The Value Proposition

Business Intelligence No BI
Percentage of stakeholders with access to financial performance data 72% 61%
Percentage of internal reports that were delivered in the time needed by managers 78% 76%
Decrease in time-to-decision over the past year 15% 11%
Revenue growth over the past 24 months 10% 9%
Change in operating margins over the past 24 months 9% 5%

Source: Aberdeen Group, January 2013

Business analytics are an essential tool for planning, budgeting, and forecasting. This technology aids key stakeholders with visibility into the essential data needed to inform forecasts as well as the ability to utilize that data in a predictive manner. For more information on how to utilize this technology, read my research on or look at some of the key features that business intelligence software can provide here on the arcplan website.


arcplan delivers all business-critical analytical capabilities to users within one Unified Business Analytics platform. Different users have different requirements, and with 20 years in business, arcplan understands that some users need dashboards, some need budgeting, planning and forecasting capabilities, some need self-service, and others need all of these and more. arcplan makes it simple and intuitive for all users to consume information to make better decisions, identify areas for improvement, and plan future business activities. Learn more about our platform >>

Nick Castellina

About Nick Castellina

Nick Castellina is a Senior Research Analyst for the Business Planning and Execution practice at the Aberdeen Group. His research covers topics such as ERP; Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Forecasting; Enterprise Performance Management; Business Process Management; and the office of the Chief Financial Officer. Castellina also serves a significant role in the development of the Aberdeen Business Review, a research document presenting a comprehensive analysis of technology trends and business performance results from organizations across the world.
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