Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

“It Can Wait ‘Til I Get Back to the Office”… and Other Lies Mobile BI Laggards Tell Themselves


mobileBI_airportBusiness intelligence is evolving in ways that improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for companies of all sizes. Combined with major innovations like real-time data access and mobile technology, BI is truly driving the success of leading organizations. The Aberdeen Group’s recent report, Decisions on the Move: Mobile BI 2013, surveyed the state of mobile business intelligence and found that “leaders” enjoy benefits like a 2.3-times year-over-year improvement in sales revenue and customer retention, and a 70% improvement in operating profit over “followers.” The benefits of mobile BI are both practical and tangible, but some companies are still standing on the sidelines, not taking advantage of the mobility that their BI platform likely facilitates. So let’s address the misconceptions that keep some organizations lagging behind when it comes to mobile BI:

It can wait ’til I get back to the office…

The proliferation of mobile devices has opened the floodgates for an “always-connected” society. We can argue about whether or not that’s a good thing, but it is the state of business these days. Allowing yourself to think that business questions can be tackled once you’re back at the office is a mistake – one your competition may not be making. Mobile BI empowers your executives, field teams, off-site workers, and sales managers to be productive, attending to time-sensitive information and making impactful decisions no matter where they are. Certain decisions – or at the very least, status checks – can’t wait until these road warriors get back to their desk, especially when dealing with vendors and customers in different time zones. The work day isn’t confined to 9-to-5 if you’ve got coworkers, customers and vendors spread across the country, or if you’re global like arcplan. Leading organizations realize the value of mobile BI’s ability to give workers access to decision-relevant data day and night. I’d never suggest that you tether yourself to your corporate metrics 24/7, but for the times you really need that information away from the office, mobile BI is invaluable.

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BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 1


FAQsBuying Criteria & Vendor Shortlists

Business intelligence isn’t just for large enterprises anymore. Aberdeen’s SMB research reveals that the top pressure driving small businesses to implement BI is the need to move away from “gut feel” and more toward fact-based decisions. And so small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees are adopting technologies we traditionally think of as “enterprise level,” from ERP and CRM to BI and analytics.

SMBs are facing the challenges all businesses face – rapidly growing and faster data volumes, decision-makers clamoring for self-service capabilities, and scarce budgets, resources and in-house expertise to devote to analytic projects. These challenges are informing the way SMBs are buying BI software. As a BI vendor that caters to SMBs as much as large enterprises, arcplan decided to compile answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear from small and medium-sized businesses.

1) How do we create a good list of buying criteria?

The first step to implementing a BI solution is to develop a list of good buying criteria. While each company has its own set of priorities, most SMBs must adopt solutions that:

  • Are easy to install, configure and manage
  • Are user friendly and intuitive for end users and developers
  • Don’t increase demand on already limited IT resources
  • Easily integrate with existing systems/data sources
  • Have straightforward and simple pricing
  • Are relevant and proven in same-size and same-industry companies

Some companies may be primarily concerned with visual appeal, specific features like drill-down, integration with a particular data source, or amount of customization required, but this list is a good starting point.

2) Should we choose a name-brand BI vendor or a boutique vendor?

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What’s Wrong with Today’s BI Dashboards


Silos_smBusiness intelligence dashboards are stuck in the past. It may be controversial to say but it’s true – not much has changed over the past few decades when it comes to BI dashboards. Sure, we’ve defined some decent design rules, some guidelines for developing good, traditional dashboards. But a lot of the dashboards I see as VP of Solutions Delivery at arcplan don’t adequately address the needs of today’s executives, who need cross-functional views of KPIs from various departments in order to make good decisions. We aren’t living in a silo’ world; decision makers need regular access to KPIs from finance, marketing, sales, operations and HR to make good decisions. Do you have a dashboard that enables this kind of view?

If not, let’s examine what’s wrong with your BI dashboards:

1. Their silo’d foundation is a hindrance.
In the early years of data warehouse development, data was stored according to functional areas or departments. Finance, Sales, and Operations each had their own data marts and corresponding dashboards for each department. In today’s business environment, dashboards that are silo’d like your data don’t accommodate your needs. With hundreds or even thousands at KPIs in use at your company – and limited time to access and evaluate them all – a silo’d approach to data access is problematic. You need to access important information at a moment’s notice, not waste time logging into individual systems or viewing separate dashboards to get the data you need to make informed decisions. You’ve probably quickly grown weary of this process and you may even be settling for whatever information is most convenient to use, which – needless to say – is usually not the best option. An ideal dashboard solution bridges multiple information sources to give you a holistic view of the organization – one that matches your role and includes only relevant KPIs.

2. There’s a “Where’s Waldo?” element to finding the right KPIs.
Recently I had a meeting with one of arcplan’s customers in the US, who explained that their arcplan system has grown to manage 4,000 KPIs in just 5 years.

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Event Recap: arc|forum France


arc_forum_France_200pxAlong with our partner Limpida, we recently held the first event dedicated to arcplan users in France. arc|forum took place on March 21st in Paris at La Cantine, the city’s first collaborative workspace (“co-working space”) – a unique location for this one-of-a-kind event.

arcforum_france_1_smThe event brought arcplan users together with technical and functional experts. Among the 40 participants were management and directors from Veolia Water, Siemens, Natixis, Diana Food, and Bank BNP Paribas, to name a few.

arc|forum’s agenda balanced customer presentations with knowledge exchange and workshops. It kicked off with a presentation from myself – I’m arcplan’s Director of Strategic Alliances, and I spoke about arcplan’s goals and objectives for the French market.

arcforum_france_2_smNext, our CEO Roland Hölscher (pictured right) gave insight into our next platform release (slated for September). He revealed that it will be centered on the concept of DORA: Develop Once, Run Anywhere – arcplan’s approach to business intelligence for all devices and form factors. It makes responsive design simple and easy, and allows our unified platform for reporting, dashboards, and self-service BI to be even more flexible and dynamic.

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Essential Budgeting & Planning System Components – Part 3: Offline Planning


arcplan Excel Analytics_smSo far in this series – a planning software buyer’s guide – I’ve written about the benefits of workflow and the interesting ways our customers are using spreading to automate plan creation. Today I’ll address another key component of modern planning systems: offline planning, which is particularly helpful for a geographically distributed workforce.

Whether planners are in remote locations or simply travel frequently, there is value in being able to access a planning system offline. One of our non-profit customers has staff responsible for project-based budgeting located in Africa – in areas with limited bandwidth and a sporadic internet connection at best. Spotty internet isn’t an excuse for a late budget. In this situation, it’s easy to see why their arcplan planning system needs to be functional for offline staff. Once they reach an access point, they can sync their plans to the centralized repository and their supervisors can proceed with suggesting edits or approving the plans.

Perhaps this is more relevant to your company…

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