I am sitting on a train to Düsseldorf on my way back from Paris, where I presented an update of what we are doing at arcplan to a mixed audience of customers and prospects. Part of my presentation included the usual content of company and product development updates. The outlook included a preview of our next release, code named Xenon, in the context of what is happening in businesses these days. One of the key topics was the explosive appearance of mobile devices and the challenges this poses to organizations – different form factors and operating systems, security issues, and expectations from a user community that is educated by the private consumption of applications on these devices (bringing an expectation of usability to the business environment). Of course, I introduced our first-ever approach in the business intelligence world to solve the dilemma of catering to this ever-increasing diversity of different device types and form factors as DORA: Develop Once, Run Anywhere. This is accomplished by responsive design for business intelligence and analytics applications. The audience was clearly impressed as was our customer advisory board in a similar session last week.
However, this blog article is not about how to develop and deploy analytic content effectively in this new world; it’s about the business value BI solutions create.
This year we were positioned by Gartner in their annual Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. Although the Gartner analysts expressed strong appreciation for our capabilities (and commented accordingly in the strengths and cautions section of the report), we are positioned at the lower end of the niche vendor section. We were told this is partially due to self-service analytics and data discovery playing a strong role in this year’s Quadrant as this represents advanced BI. Really?
In Part 1 of this series – a planning software buyer’s guide – I covered the first essential component of a modern planning system: workflow. Let’s keep the ball rolling with another component that is vital to your next planning solution.
Spread methods are an efficient way to automate plans for a period without starting from scratch every time. Simply defined, spreading is the system’s ability to take a budget value and spread it over a range of periods based on a divisible operator (like percent per month, for example). Your planning system should include built-in spreading functionality, especially the more popular methods – even (the most used method in practice), spread like last year, and spread like last year +/- a dollar value or percent.
Essentially, spreading is a fast data entry method. It will save time to have your system manage and centrally control your corporate spread methods. Users should also be able to create their own. A nice-to-have feature is color changes where data has been entered. Click to expand the image above and you’ll see an arcplan Edge system, where blue cells indicate areas where data can be entered and yellow cells indicate that data has been entered during this session.
Note: The terms “spread” and “allocation” are often used interchangeably, but at arcplan we make a distinction between the two. To make it easy for our customers, we say that spreading is bottom-up only and occurs horizontally across financial periods, while allocation is vertically rolled-down spreading. For example…
The Future of Dashboards
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan
There’s something wrong with dashboards – they’re stuck in the past. They’re designed for functional areas or departments, but as a modern decision-maker, you might need to view cross-functional KPIs from finance, sales, operations, marketing, and HR to make good decisions. So how do you reconcile the dashboards you have with the views you actually need to be effective?
In this webinar, we demonstrate:
- Why dashboards need to reflect the matrix-style way decision-makers are working today
- The “31 flavors problem” and how dashboard users can distinguish the signal from the noise when it comes to thousands of potential KPIs
- How our internet-fueled, “zero attention span” lives must influence dashboard design
- A simple way to make dashboards more effective by empowering users to develop their own “Pinterest-style” dashboards
It’s time to rethink what dashboards should be. Peek into the future with us in this webinar!
An efficient budgeting, planning and forecasting process is a cornerstone of successful organizations. Software goes a long way in driving that efficiency – and I’m not talking about Excel. If you’re outgrowing spreadsheet-based planning and will be evaluating dedicated planning solutions to facilitate more accurate, timely and agile planning, over the next few articles, I’ll be laying out the system components, or specific features, you’ll want to look for. You can see these components demonstrated in my recent webinar on Budgeting and Planning in 2013, but here I’ll write about them in more detail and explain why they’re important to the success of your planning initiative.
Enterprise workflow is what separates your financial planning or corporate performance management system from simple data collection and reporting systems. Planning systems with workflow allow planners to follow a series of steps to bring the plan from initiation to completion. Workflow logically orders tasks and enables managers to keep an eye on where their team is in the planning cycle.
The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has moved from hype to reality, from nice-to-have to necessity and from business option to expectation. It’s a workplace trend that’s driven by worker demands, and as many as 60% of organizations will give in to allow personal devices in the workplace by the end of 2013. In the same way, the new era of business intelligence is driven by consumer technologies like mobility and collaboration, and that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing such an uptick in mobile BI adoption plans this year…people are simply demanding it.
Mobile BI Plans
According to a 2012 benchmark study by Ventana Research on Next Generation Business Intelligence, 53% of companies are currently deploying or plan to deploy tablets in their BI environment, a trend driven by executives who use their own mobile devices for work and are asking for support. BI vendors have been quick to respond – like others, we released our own product, arcplan Mobile, in early 2011 in anticipation of the trend.
The 2012 Successful BI Survey by BI Scorecard revealed that organizations that have already deployed mobile BI and been successful enjoy an adoption rate of 39%, much higher than industry average. BI Scorecard founder Cindi Howson thinks mobile BI “will be the technology that helps BI become more mainstream and impactful.”