Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
11Jun/130

BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 4

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smbroiROI, 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…

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4Jun/130

Future-Proofing Your BI Dashboards: Article Featured on TDWI

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tdwi_logoarcplan’s Senior Vice President (and frequent author on this blog) Dwight deVera is featured on TDWI.org for his article, How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards. He covers how Responsive Design, HTML5, Self-Service and Collaboration are already beginning to influence BI dashboard design and why you need to get on board with these trends. Check out the article and let us know what you think!

How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards

Dashboards equal business intelligence (BI) to many people. They have been around for decades without substantial changes. Over time, we have refined the rules of dashboard design, deciding what makes dashboards most functional and efficient. Times are changing and dashboards must adapt to shifting user requirements. Mobility is encroaching on traditional dashboard usage and users are demanding self-service capabilities, less IT interference, and a greater say in what corporate data is useful and relevant. Future-proofing your dashboards is imperative if they are to continue delivering value.

Responsive Design + HTML5 = BI Anywhere
According to TechRepublic’s BYOD Business Strategy Survey, 62 percent of companies either already have Bring Your Own Device allowances in place or plan to by the end of 2013. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand — smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for Web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. However, switching devices and accessing BI apps is not always so effortless.

A new design concept is making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development…

Continue reading the article on TDWI.org >>

31May/130

On-Demand Webinar: Visualizations to Make You a Better Budgeter

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View-WebinarView this arcplan webinar at your convenience – it’s 30 minutes on the next big trend in budgeting and planning.

Visualizations to Make You a Better Budgeter
Recorded Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Duration: 30 minutes
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan

About this webinar:

Wouldn’t you love it if your budgets told you where you can make the biggest impact? If you no longer had to sift through pages and pages of numbers looking for ways to cut spending and hoping those changes will make a difference?

arcplan_planning_dashboard_smThe next big trend in planning is tactical planning dashboards that plot your plan data on charts that point out exactly where budget vs. actual will start to go south, what cost centers are having the most negative impact on the budget, and at what point products start to become unprofitable. These visualizations are a much more effective way to see where you can impact your budget than learning how to read an anatomically correct financial statement and guessing where adjustments should be made.

We present:

  • A visualization model that tells you where to focus your energy to make the biggest impact on your budgets and plans
  • The chart types that are most effective for your plan data
  • Examples of planning dashboards you can emulate

This webinar is for:

  • Non-finance professionals who need help becoming better budgeters and planners
  • Finance professionals who want their plan users to be more effective

View this webinar >>

28May/133

“It Can Wait ‘Til I Get Back to the Office”… and Other Lies Mobile BI Laggards Tell Themselves

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mobileBI_airportBusiness intelligence is evolving in ways that improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for companies of all sizes. Combined with major innovations like real-time data access and mobile technology, BI is truly driving the success of leading organizations. The Aberdeen Group’s recent report, Decisions on the Move: Mobile BI 2013, surveyed the state of mobile business intelligence and found that “leaders” enjoy benefits like a 2.3-times year-over-year improvement in sales revenue and customer retention, and a 70% improvement in operating profit over “followers.” The benefits of mobile BI are both practical and tangible, but some companies are still standing on the sidelines, not taking advantage of the mobility that their BI platform likely facilitates. So let’s address the misconceptions that keep some organizations lagging behind when it comes to mobile BI:

It can wait ’til I get back to the office…

The proliferation of mobile devices has opened the floodgates for an “always-connected” society. We can argue about whether or not that’s a good thing, but it is the state of business these days. Allowing yourself to think that business questions can be tackled once you’re back at the office is a mistake – one your competition may not be making. Mobile BI empowers your executives, field teams, off-site workers, and sales managers to be productive, attending to time-sensitive information and making impactful decisions no matter where they are. Certain decisions – or at the very least, status checks – can’t wait until these road warriors get back to their desk, especially when dealing with vendors and customers in different time zones. The work day isn’t confined to 9-to-5 if you’ve got coworkers, customers and vendors spread across the country, or if you’re global like arcplan. Leading organizations realize the value of mobile BI’s ability to give workers access to decision-relevant data day and night. I’d never suggest that you tether yourself to your corporate metrics 24/7, but for the times you really need that information away from the office, mobile BI is invaluable.

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23May/130

BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 3

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Data Management_arcplanData Management & the Continued Use of Excel

Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t able to afford business intelligence software platforms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, that’s no longer an obstacle with the rise of affordable, easy to use BI tools like arcplan. Once you’ve decided that you need better, faster answers to your business questions, you start to get into the nitty gritty details of what a BI deployment means and how you need to prepare your data. Let’s continue with our series on the most frequently asked questions SMBs have when it comes to BI. This time I’ll address questions about data management and spreadsheets.

5) How much data do we need?

The #1 technology challenge for SMBs is getting insight from the data they already have. The average SMB has over 27 unique data sources according to research conducted by The Aberdeen Group – from ERP systems and General Ledgers to CRM tools, social media and more. Your company should carefully consider the amount, type, and “freshness” of data that your organization requires for its reporting.

Ask yourself:

  • How many data sources are really critical to our decision-making?
  • Do we need real-time data access or will daily or weekly updates do the job?
  • How far back do we need to go? Do we need 5-year-old data or is only recent data important?

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