The business intelligence tools of yesterday were slow, expensive, difficult to use, and required long implementation times. Well…let’s be honest – many of today’s BI tools are still this way. I find it amazing what some organizations will put up with when it comes to BI. Best-in-class organizations, however, are going after agile BI like never before. Agile BI enables “flexibility by accelerating the time it takes to deliver value with BI projects,” according to TDWI. That’s the formal definition, but what does agile BI look like in practice?
The concept of agile BI has made users more demanding in what they expect out of a BI solution. They want information in their hands faster so they can make decisions in a timely manner – that is, they want to make decisions based on today’s data, not data that’s 3 weeks old. They want simple, intuitive self-service BI tools that allow them to manipulate and analyze data themselves, without having to wait for IT. And they want BI that’s implemented quickly so they see faster time-to-value.
So agile BI is about timely information, self-service analysis, and rapid implementation. But it’s also the key to increasing BI adoption at your organization. Let’s explore why.
It’s that time of year again – when quarter- and year-end obligations have finance departments frantically crunching numbers to wrap-up their annual reports and create plans for the upcoming year. Some endure the same budgeting, planning and forecasting frustrations year after year, including too many spreadsheets and lack of strategic insight, with little or no plans to make things better for the next cycle. Why fall victim to Einstein’s definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results) when there’s so much more to gain from taking charge of your planning?
Here’s what you can look forward to with a software-enabled budgeting and planning process:
1) Timely, accurate plans and reports
Planners are often plagued by disjointed information from various sources and multiple spreadsheets, where no “single version of the truth” exists and for all the numbers piling up, there’s no supporting text. As a result, they spend a great deal of time consolidating and reconciling data, which is half the job but takes up 100% of the time. Many planners experience the misfortune of completing a plan weeks or even months too late, negating its validity and rendering the idea of replanning as conditions change totally impossible. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t yield a lot of value to the organization.
It’s conference season at arcplan! Though we hold smaller arc|planet events in other countries, like Korea and the upcoming BeNeLux conference, the big kahuna is our annual German users conference, held last week at the Park Inn in Kaarst, Germany. Around 200 attendees including customers, prospects and partners showed up for the two-day event – a mix of more than 20 presentations from business intelligence experts and arcplan customers, break-outs, networking and of course, a little fun.
We must thank our ten arc|planet 2012 partner sponsors – and most especially Ernst & Young as our main event sponsor – for working with us to enable this great conference!
Keynotes and Featured Presentations
Wojtek Czyz kicked things off with a keynote called “Everything’s Possible.” Mr. Czyz lost his lower left leg in 2001 when he was an aspiring soccer player and turned that setback into Paralympics Gold and Silver medals in Athens, Beijing, and London. He gave us insight into his life and success, inspiring us all to have confidence and believe that a combination of willpower and determination can make anything work.
Our own CEO Roland Hölscher delivered a keynote on the theme of the conference, “It simply works,” a message we saw fit to be our company tagline and one that describes our drive for simplicity in the arcplan platform. Mr. Hölscher also provided a brief preview of our next major release (code named “Xenon”), which maintains the concept of simplicity yet provides an even more improved user experience across multiple applications, including mobile devices.
October 24, 2012 marked our third successful arc|planet Korea conference. More than 200 participants gathered in Seoul to glean insight on business intelligence best practices, network with other arcplan users, and see the latest updates to the arcplan 7.5 platform. Our partner Zalesia graciously hosted this event and provided mobile devices that attendees used to explore some of the newest features discussed in the day’s presentations.
I previewed the new features and functions of arcplan 7.5 which was released to the general public the following day. Attendees were excited to see improvements to our planning solution (including enhancements to workflow and simulation methods), upgraded charting (including motion charts, which allow users to see changes in data over time), the new KPI designer (which allows users to design their own roll-up measures), and more. I also shared an outlook of the BI industry, covering hot topics such as data analytics, collaborative BI and mobile BI. Our Korean customers are early adopters of new technologies, so this presentation proved to be of particular interest.
But of course, the highlight of any arc|planet event is the presentations by arcplan customers…