Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Resolutions to Optimize BI in 2012


2011 is rapidly winding down, and we’re talking to a lot of customers who are currently planning their BI initiatives for 2012. The New Year brings resolutions, personal and professional, so we’ve taken stock of what we’re hearing and put together this list of our recommendations for resolutions your company should consider to optimize your BI in 2012. Are we right? What others are on your schedule for next year?

Resolution 1: Information Access for Everyone
BI for the masses – it’s a thought some think is far off in the distance, but actually, many of our customers are making the move in 2012. Since decisions are being made by everyone from CEOs to line-level employees, companies need to consider opening information access up beyond a small group of power-users. Employees who can’t write reports can still analyze them and make use of the data to make better decisions. Take stock of your existing BI systems in 2012 and determine if removing restrictions would benefit your company’s performance.

Resolution 2: Collaboration Tools – the Key to Success
How do employees determine what BI reports are useful and what reports are garbage? How do they make enhancement requests for reports and dashboards, provide feedback to report authors, or share & annotate reports? Collaborative BI solutions not only offer an easy entry-point into BI for the casual user/knowledge worker (since they make it easy for users to search for relevant information), but they also keep statistics about the most- and least-used reports. Solutions like our own arcplan Engage allow users to rate and comment on reports, so their feedback becomes an essential part of the BI process. Collaboration, when it comes to BI, is about adding value to existing information and using it to your company’s advantage.

Resolution 3: Form Follows Function

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Free BI Webinar: Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects


Tuesday, December 13th @ 2pm Eastern marks the final webinar of 2011 for arcplan! If you’re being asked to justify your BI spend as 2011 comes to a close, this webinar will show you how to do it.

Since we first presented this webinar last November, more than 400 organizations have used our methodology to successfully calculate their BI ROI. This year, we’re offering attendees access not only to our easy-to-use ROI Excel template, but also to our free web application that simplifies ROI calculation even further.

In this webinar, we will present a methodology based on 10 years of ROI calculation for arcplan’s customers. We’ll take you step by step through the tough questions to ask during your ROI analysis and we’ll present case studies from several organizations. We’ll even give you insider tips like the top 5 BI projects that never pay off.

Note that audio for this event will be broadcast through your computer speakers/headphones only – there will be on teleconference.

Hope you can join us for this BI webinar!


Mobile BI in 2012: What’s Ahead


At arcplan, we like to think about what’s ahead for business intelligence and design our products around that vision. Back in 2009/2010, we saw mobile BI becoming “next big thing” and developed a solution (arcplan Mobile) that we offer free to our customers. We envisioned the mobile workforce needing their reports, dashboards, and analysis with them 24/7 and that is coming to fruition, as evidenced by the reliance we all have on our smartphones and tablets.

Recently, I collected my thoughts on what’s ahead for mobile BI in 2012. Recently published on, I’ll provide a summary here and a link to the full article. I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re just starting to evaluate mobile BI or you’ve been using it successfully at your organization.

2012 Prediction #1: Mobile BI design standards emerge
Mobile BI apps will need to be designed specifically for mobile devices. They’re not just an appendix to a desktop application. We really need to start thinking of them as their own applications with their own design standards. Just as we might recommend that a customer’s dashboard application contain no more than 6 charts per screen, we might recommend that a mobile BI app should start with a list of reports and allow the user to drill down from there. Taking gestures, zooming, finger sizes, screen sizes and more into account will result in design standards for mobile BI apps evolving, just as they have in the consumer application market. And in the future, we’ll undoubtedly see mobile BI design standards informing desktop application design as well.

2012 Prediction #2: Mobile collaboration debuts
Collaborative applications for mobile devices are rare at this point, but with up to 1 billion mobile workers in the workforce these days, we’ll need to see real collaboration capabilities become part of mobile BI solutions.

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Business Intelligence Trends 2012: Mobile BI, Collaborative BI and Cloud BI


Last week, our CEO posted an article about his own predictions for BI in 2012. After reading it, I thought about surveying arcplan employees about the trends they see coming to the forefront over the next 12 months. They suggested that the hype around mobile, collaborative, and cloud BI that we saw this year will come to fruition in 2012. We published a press release today that highlights these trends and what we can expect to see next year:

BI Trends 2012 – From Hype to Breakthrough

The market for Business Intelligence (BI) in 2011 was shaped by three much-hyped themes: mobile BI, collaborative BI and cloud BI. While vendors and analysts are driving the buzz around these new technologies, users have thus far hesitated to fully embrace them as they explore what their business benefits might be. Will 2012 be the year that mobile, collaborative and cloud BI go mainstream? Global BI innovator arcplan dares to look into its crystal ball to see what technologies will break through in the coming year.

Mobile BI – Simplified Entry
The hype around mobile BI was clear this year, but did the talk result in concrete implementations? According to The BI Survey 10 from analysts BARC, only 8% of companies using BI software access their reports in mobile form – an astonishingly low number if you consider that mobile BI is being lauded by analysts and the media as the next big thing, and users are clamoring for mobile solutions.

So why hasn’t this hype translated to action yet? So far, Apple has dominated the market for mobile devices with the iPhone and iPad, which are only conditionally compatible with business applications. This will change in 2012 when Microsoft and Phone 7 return to the market with a focus on both the business sector and the consumer market, which will set it apart from Apple. Companies are looking beyond the Apple platform for cost-effective mobile BI solutions, and in 2012, they will encounter Microsoft’s new Metro Design, which will simplify entry into mobile BI tremendously. This concept, fueled by clean typeface and balanced design, can be used on Phone 7 as well as any other mobile device and is well suited for business applications. Furthermore, Web apps – in contrast to native apps – will meet the demand for an efficient entry into the world of mobile business applications. Due to their develop once/deploy anywhere nature, they offer businesses the chance to productively use mobile BI apps on any platform (Apple, Microsoft, Android, etc.) and independent of cumbersome approval processes or other restrictions in manufacturer-controlled app stores.

Collaborative BI – The Democratization of Knowledge
2012 will be the year in which companies realize the promise of collaborative BI when information becomes democratized…

Continue reading the full press release >>


Bookmarking, Exporting & Report Scheduling in arcplan Enterprise


Today I thought we’d touch on a couple of features in arcplan Enterprise that are starting to get a lot of attention.

Our customers don’t just look at their BI dashboards every day – they interact with them. And in some cases, they like to save their filters for later use. So arcplan created a bookmark feature that allows reports and dashboards to be saved (just like you’d save a link in a browser) with all the filters set just the way you like them. And when you pull up the bookmark, you’ll see your report or dashboard refresh with the most updated data.

You can also export your bookmarks to PowerPoint, Excel, or PDF and can even set up one-time or automatic email delivery. Simply select the reports and bookmarks to include, what format you’d like to receive, and set your schedule.

We think that BI in 2012 will be all about self-service – allowing business users to access and analyze data without help from IT. These features go a long way toward easy access and distribution of information for our customers.

Check out this short video to see how these features work: