Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

On-Demand Webinar: Business Intelligence as the Gateway to Big Data


View-WebinarCheck out this on-demand webinar from arcplan – a 40-minute primer on using big data and BI together for enterprise impact.

Business Intelligence as the Gateway to Big Data
Recorded Date: August 28, 2013
Speakers: Dwight deVera, arcplan Senior VP; Tom Veith, Senior Solutions Manager

About this webinar:

You’ve heard the hype around big data, and maybe you’ve put some thought into how it could impact your business. After all, the promise of big data is accessing hidden insights, discovering new approaches, and making better decisions. But how do you begin developing a technology approach that’s practical and doesn’t require a massive investment of money, time and resources?

big-data-biThe answer is to leverage business intelligence platforms that can handle huge data volumes, provide real-time access and enable data exploration. This webinar serves as a primer on how to practically use big data and BI together. Investments in big data usually allow a group of data scientists to deliver their results to a small community of business end users. To get beyond small communities and have an enterprise impact, you’ll need business intelligence – the mechanism to scale your big data initiative across the enterprise.

In this webinar, we:

  • Lay out the big data approaches you can take based on your available resources and infrastructure, and the benefits and challenges of each approach
  • Explain the benefits of utilizing existing BI platforms for big data analysis and visualization
  • Demonstrate big data and BI in action on Teradata and Google BigQuery

This isn’t a webinar for IT professionals only. We break the concepts down in a way that makes sense for everyone.

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Finding the Right Analytics Engine For Your Business


luxurycar_BIAs we usher in the warm summer months, I can’t help but notice people taking their high performance convertibles out of the garage for a spin. Upon leaving the infamous King of Prussia mall last weekend, I saw a Mercedes SL550 Roadster and an Audi R8 in the parking lot. That’s when I learned an important lesson: people actually drive cars that are over $100k. No but seriously, while these sports cars are great for feeding your occasional need for speed or making a bold statement about personal taste, they are not meant for everyday use. For most of us, a comfortable, mid-range vehicle that won’t empty your bank account works just fine. The same is true when selecting an analytic tool for your businesses. Business analytics solutions are set to reach 50% of potential users by 2014 according to Gartner, but maybe your organization is a bit behind. Choosing an analytic tool can be a bumpy road, so let’s discuss some things you should think about when choosing the right solution for your company’s needs:

Balanced and smooth
When purchasing a vehicle, most buyers will select one that’s reliable, safe, and will hold its value over time. When purchasing a business intelligence solution to meet everyday analytic needs, you should think about similar qualities: you want a BI tool that reliably helps you address specific business problems, is user-friendly for users of all skill levels (especially if you’re shooting for that 50% adoption rate), and holds its value over time – also known as a return on investment.  “Balanced and smooth” BI solutions – those that offer a good deal of options but are easy to install and work with – are great for organizations just getting their feet wet with BI technology…

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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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Essential Budgeting & Planning System Components – Part 2: Spreading


In Part 1 of this series – a planning software buyer’s guide – I covered the first essential component of a modern planning system: workflow. Let’s keep the ball rolling with another component that is vital to your next planning solution.

Spread methods are an efficient way to automate plans for a period without starting from scratch every time. Simply defined, spreading is the system’s ability to take a budget value and spread it over a range of periods based on a divisible operator (like percent per month, for example). Your planning system should include built-in spreading functionality, especially the more popular methods – even (the most used method in practice), spread like last year, and spread like last year +/- a dollar value or percent.

Essentially, spreading is a fast data entry method. It will save time to have your system manage and centrally control your corporate spread methods. Users should also be able to create their own. A nice-to-have feature is color changes where data has been entered. Click to expand the image above and you’ll see an arcplan Edge system, where blue cells indicate areas where data can be entered and yellow cells indicate that data has been entered during this session.

Note: The terms “spread” and “allocation” are often used interchangeably, but at arcplan we make a distinction between the two. To make it easy for our customers, we say that spreading is bottom-up only and occurs horizontally across financial periods, while allocation is vertically rolled-down spreading. For example…

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Essential Budgeting & Planning System Components – Part 1: Workflow


Workflow Calendar_smA planning software buyer’s guide

An efficient budgeting, planning and forecasting process is a cornerstone of successful organizations. Software goes a long way in driving that efficiency – and I’m not talking about Excel. If you’re outgrowing spreadsheet-based planning and will be evaluating dedicated planning solutions to facilitate more accurate, timely and agile planning, over the next few articles, I’ll be laying out the system components, or specific features, you’ll want to look for. You can see these components demonstrated in my recent webinar on Budgeting and Planning in 2013, but here I’ll write about them in more detail and explain why they’re important to the success of your planning initiative.

Enterprise workflow is what separates your financial planning or corporate performance management system from simple data collection and reporting systems. Planning systems with workflow allow planners to follow a series of steps to bring the plan from initiation to completion. Workflow logically orders tasks and enables managers to keep an eye on where their team is in the planning cycle.

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