Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Webinar Recording: Beyond Excel for BI


In case you missed our webinar on 11/2, Beyond Excel for BI, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


We discussed why people love and hate Excel, often at the same time; how you know you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet-based analysis or planning model; how BI augments your current efforts; the benefits of Excel add-ins; and a case study of a customer who eliminated the collection of 150 cost center spreadsheets per month. We also showed a Financial Briefing Book BI application that integrates the best things about Excel, while ensuring data security, allowing write-back to the database, eliminating manual work, and enabling scheduled distribution of reports.

We had a great turn-out and the audience asked a lot of questions. Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, let us know if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.


What HTML5 Means for Mobile BI


What changes you as a customer can anticipate over the next 12 months

You may have heard of HTML5 by now, the fifth version of the language used to present content on the web. But what’s the big deal? Let’s take a look at how HTML5 is changing the mobile BI landscape and what benefits you’re going to reap if you’re part of the 22% of organizations that are planning to deploy mobile BI in the near future.

HTML5 is a big push forward from our current version, especially with regard to how it handles media (audio, video) as well as cross-device portability. Both are key areas pertinent to BI software providers who are working in the mobile space – especially those like arcplan that are delivering “web apps” to customers – applications that run through mobile browsers on smartphones and tablet PCs, eliminating the need to create separate apps for different devices. The debate about web apps vs. native apps has been raging over the past year. Here’s my take.

Today native apps or even HTML4-based web apps require application or infrastructure customizations for every different device type or technology, which makes them cumbersome to maintain over time – cumbersome for the vendors of such software solutions, but even more so for the customers deploying applications to their field staff. Not every organization can standardize on one device, so maintenance costs for mobile BI can be high – or at least higher than expected.

But this will change with HTML5. As it matures, the authors plan to allow future HTML5 browsers to (securely) access sensor and touch information, simply eradicating most of the arguments in favor of native app development. The new functions of HTML5 will help BI vendors provide cost-efficient mobile BI options to customers so they can reuse existing desktop applications on mobile devices.

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Free BI Webinar – Beyond Excel for BI


Join arcplan Wednesday, November 2nd at 2pm Eastern for Beyond Excel for BI to learn how business intelligence software can augment your analysis and planning efforts without completely abandoning spreadsheets.

Analysts and financial planners love their spreadsheets. And why not? They make it easy to tweak reports, employ formulas, and massage your data. In fact, spreadsheets are the most often used technology in 60% of organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011. They have become an indispensable tool for calculations, modeling, analysis, and planning.

But Excel is not necessarily the best choice for every scenario. If you think you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet model, or you’re encountering more and more situations where Excel is failing to meet your needs, then it’s time to think about the next step – business intelligence software.

BI that embraces Excel users is possible. If you’re considering making the move to BI software and want to know the pros and cons, this webinar is designed for you.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Discuss how BI software can augment your current analysis and planning efforts
  • Present a case study of a global organization that moved from spreadsheets to BI and show you its ROI analysis
  • Demonstrate a BI system with a familiar spreadsheet interface that allows data entry, write-back, secure distribution of reports, and more
  • Give you proven arguments you can take to a) your executives to gain support for BI and b) your team to gain the support of current Excel users

Your analytic technology needs to provide you many things: direct access to your source data, the ability to take action, the quick generation of presentations and other reports, and easy navigation and drill-down to name a few. Join us on November 2nd to learn how these (completely reasonable) requests can be fulfilled by BI, without leaving Excel completely behind.

Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern (New York City time zone)
Presenter: Mark Flyamer, Senior Solutions Manager
Register: Click here

Common Challenges That Undermine Your Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting


For many financial planners out there, budgeting, planning and forecasting equals spreadsheets. Dozens or hundreds of them – that’s just the reality. You’ve accepted the fact that come the end of the fiscal year, you and your cohorts will be chained to your desk piecing together various versions of spreadsheets from each department and hoping that after several weeks of this, you’re able to consolidate the numbers into a workable budget for the next year. And then you hit a sales roadblock halfway through the year and have to forecast the impact…and go through all of this again.

The sheer amount of work this process takes is not the only challenge you face, and you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at 4 of the common challenges that are undermining your ability to be truly productive and add value when it comes to budgeting, planning, and forecasting.

Have you ever tried driving at night without headlights? I haven’t, but I can tell it’s a bad idea. In the same vein, your visibility issues when it comes to budgeting and planning mean you might be driving blind and that’s a bad idea for organizations that want accurate budgets and forecasts for the year/6 months/quarter ahead. Can you relate to these complaints?

  1. I’m unable to get real-time data from IT.
  2. The data I do get is siloed.
  3. We need to cut our sales plan back 10% and I have no way to see the financial impact, let alone quickly notify budget managers of the change.

Visibility issues might vary in complexity but they all mean the same thing: making decisions with inadequate or outdated information can inject serious error into every process at your organization. If you have old data to plan with, your budgets may be unrealistic. If you can’t provide timely insight to your budget managers, they can’t make good decisions (as would be the case with #3 above).

And if you’re not providing value-added contributions to the budgeting and planning process, your role as a planner will be undermined.

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BI for SMBs: How to Select the Right Business Intelligence Solution for Your Size Business


Business Intelligence (BI) is not just for Fortune 1000 companies anymore. Many small- and medium-sized businesses are moving beyond manually tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in spreadsheets and are making use of the same analytics and reporting that large enterprises rely on. Deploying BI is a big decision for any company, but especially for SMBs with limited resources and budget constraints.

The first step to implementing a BI solution is to develop a list of good buying criteria. While each company has a unique set of priorities, a standard set of rules for the majority of SMBs is to adopt solutions that:

  • Are easy to install, configure and manage
  • Require minimal customization and are simple to use
  • Don’t increase demand on already limited IT resources
  • Can easily integrate with existing systems
  • Have straight-forward and simple pricing
  • Can be consumed in modular components and extended when required
  • Are relevant and proven in same-size and same-industry companies

There are a number of BI vendors with easy to use, affordable, and scalable software solutions that offer an ideal entry point into BI so you can take your decision-making to the next level. You simply need to find the right solution that fits your individual business needs.