Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
9Aug/110

5 Ways to Fail At Mobile BI

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I know it’s more typical to see “how to succeed” articles, but sometimes knowing “how to fail” is just as important. This is the case with mobile BI. It’s a relatively new phenomenon – accessing business intelligence apps on mobile devices like tablet PCs and smartphones – but I’ve seen enough companies fail at deploying it that I’ve developed a set of guidelines to guarantee failure, if that’s what you’re into.

So if you’d like to see your mobile BI deployment fail, read on! If you’d like to succeed and have your executives thanking you for enabling them to interact with company performance data anytime, anywhere, do the opposite of what I’ve seen so many companies do…

1) Skip ROI / Just do it.
The CFO is your company’s ATM, right? You need to purchase 100 iPads so that your cool, new mobile BI deployment can be standardized on one device (that your CEO likes), so your CFO is obviously going to cut you a check for $60,000. Obviously not. If you really want to have a standard device for accessing mobile BI apps, be prepared to answer questions about the business benefits your company will see from buying 100 iPads or how long it’ll be until the money spent is recovered through cost avoidance or cost reduction. Confused yet? Check out this recording of our webinar, Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects, for step-by-step instructions you can follow to calculate the ROI of your mobile BI project.

2) Ignore existing Infrastructure.
ignoranceIt’s ok if you’re not sure what infrastructure your organization already has in place, right? At some point, you overheard the IT manager mention a Blackberry server but iPads are the latest and greatest so you’d rather go with iPads anyway. Good luck pitching that argument! The truth is, hardware cost is a hugely important factors for getting this project moving. If your company has already deployed Blackberry devices, go with a mobile BI solution that works for Blackberry. In the future, you may upgrade to iPads, so consider a solution that’s based on web apps – meaning the applications are device-independent and can be rolled out on another platform in the future with little effort.

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3Aug/110

Social Media & Business Intelligence: Friends or Frenemies?

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Social media monitoring is an emerging trend that’s here to stay as the popularity of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ increases. Business intelligence is past the trend phase – it’s commonplace at companies large and small, who will spend nearly $11 billion on it before the year is over, according to Gartner. These are two powerful segments of the analytics market and the question that’s begging to be asked is: are social media and business intelligence friends or frenemies? Do they have to play along to keep the peace or do they actually go hand-in-hand?

For us at arcplan, social media and BI are two sides of the same coin, two pieces of the puzzle that is your business. For a complete picture of your customers, your brand, and your position in the market to emerge, you need information that’s collected from social sites and from your corporate data sources. After all, your data warehouse isn’t going to tell you that the off-handed Twitter comment you made last week contributed to a drop in sales unless you can associate your sentiment analysis to your sales data.

We’re all striving to “do more” with our data – to roll out ad-hoc reporting to our business users so they can take ownership of analysis, make data easier to access so we can rely on IT less, create high-level dashboards for our executives, build scorecards to manage our KPIs, master every chart type… but we haven’t truly begun to do more with data until we incorporate information from outside traditional BI data sources into our everyday analysis. And be aware, the amount of data we’re talking about can be huge. That’s why some in our industry call this Big Data – but this is a story we will review in another article.

It’s important to understand how you, as an organization, can structure social information and associate it to the other data you have about your customers. All kinds of companies – B2C and B2B – are seeing the need to better understand all dimensions of their customers – not only demographic information and purchase history, but also what they’re saying in the social space.

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1Aug/110

Regression Analysis – An Example in Software

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Regression analysis finds the relationship between two variables and is often used for projecting future data. It’s an extremely complicated formula that starts with…

Regression Equation(y) = a + bx
Slope(b) = (NΣXY – (ΣX)(ΣY)) / (NΣX2 – (ΣX)2)
Intercept(a) = (ΣY – b(ΣX)) / N

…but that’s just the beginning. You may want to leverage software to do the heavy analytical lifting for you.

In the example below (video), we’ll go over how regression analysis can predict 12 months of future sales data based on 3 years of historical data. arcplan Enterprise business intelligence software includes a linear regression formula that takes all the guesswork out of your calculations. You can change your assumptions with the click of a mouse and the system instantly delivers a new regression line that projects updated future data. Check it out and let me know what you think!

28Jul/110

5 Steps to Better Supplier Quality

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We work with a number of manufacturing companies around the world that need help staying on top of everything from daily production metrics (like machine utilization and on-time delivery) to complex financial calculations to ensure profitability. But as a business intelligence software provider, one of the most important processes we’ve been tasked with is helping our clients manage supplier quality.

Managing the performance of your suppliers is crucial for controlling costs and improving the quality of your outputs. Experts say that the cost of poor supplier quality may equal more than 10% of an organization’s revenue, so keeping that number under industry standards is simply a smart financial decision. But how do you embark on this journey?

1) Start with a subset of your suppliers.
One company may have potentially hundreds or thousands of suppliers, so determining a subset to begin measuring is imperative. You can roll out your supplier scorecards to every supplier in the future, but for now, let’s get it right with just a few. I suggest ranking your suppliers by how much impact they have on your product. The most critical suppliers that you can’t continue operations without are the ones that you rely on most heavily, so these are a good place to start. In the middle of the list are suppliers who directly impact your product, but you could seek alternatives if the need arises. At the bottom are suppliers that have no direct impact on your product.

2) Set expectations with your suppliers.
Your suppliers may know they have some poor processes that are straining their relationship with you and would relish the chance to improve them. Let your suppliers know that you’re beginning to track metrics that will help establish what needs improvement. This first step – just being honest – goes a long way toward building mutual trust and should force both sides to become invested in the success of the partnership. It is important that both parties communicate and document performance expectations, and have a mutual understanding of those expectations going forward.

3) Determine your metrics for success.
Your management team is probably already measuring a number of things that can be incorporated into your list of metrics. Your finance team is tracking costs; you may have six sigma principles in place to track defective parts per million; and your logistics system probably has metrics related to on-time delivery. I bet you’re even collecting a wealth of data in spreadsheets for monthly reporting. Gather these existing metrics along with any new information you identify as being important – this is the start of your Supplier Scorecards. Here are some sample metrics to consider and how they will help you:

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20Jul/113

Web Pivoting / Ad-Hoc Reporting in arcplan Enterprise

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Have you heard the term “ad-hoc reporting” or “ad-hoc query” being thrown around at your organization? If you’re turning corporate data into useful information for decision-making, ad-hoc reporting is a necessity. “Ad-hoc” is latin for “as the occasion arises,” so when you hear ad-hoc reporting, think “on the fly” querying by nontechnical users.

Web Pivoting, simply put, is ad-hoc functionality in a Web broswer. Not only can power users drill into multidimensional data, but regular business users can also find answers to pressing questions in a self-service fashion. arcplan Enterprise users have access to drag-and-drop functionality that lets them build reports, change row and column data, and adjust filters easily.

Check out a brief demonstration of what ad-hoc reporting in a browser looks like:

Have questions or want to know when this will be available in your arcplan Enterprise release? Leave us a comment or send an email to sales@arcplan.com