Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
26Mar/130

A New Way of Thinking…Or Why Data Discovery Is Not the Only Path to BI Value Creation

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new_way_of_thinkingI am sitting on a train to Düsseldorf on my way back from Paris, where I presented an update of what we are doing at arcplan to a mixed audience of customers and prospects. Part of my presentation included the usual content of company and product development updates. The outlook included a preview of our next release, code named Xenon, in the context of what is happening in businesses these days. One of the key topics was the explosive appearance of mobile devices and the challenges this poses to organizations – different form factors and operating systems, security issues, and expectations from a user community that is educated by the private consumption of applications on these devices (bringing an expectation of usability to the business environment). Of course, I introduced our first-ever approach in the business intelligence world to solve the dilemma of catering to this ever-increasing diversity of different device types and form factors as DORA: Develop Once, Run Anywhere. This is accomplished by responsive design for business intelligence and analytics applications. The audience was clearly impressed as was our customer advisory board in a similar session last week.

However, this blog article is not about how to develop and deploy analytic content effectively in this new world; it’s about the business value BI solutions create.

This year we were positioned by Gartner in their annual Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. Although the Gartner analysts expressed strong appreciation for our capabilities (and commented accordingly in the strengths and cautions section of the report), we are positioned at the lower end of the niche vendor section. We were told this is partially due to self-service analytics and data discovery playing a strong role in this year’s Quadrant as this represents advanced BI. Really?

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4Mar/132

iWatch MyKPIs: Real-Time KPI Delivery to Your Watch?

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iWatch_arcplanAs speculation about Apple’s iWatch grows – will it be a snap bracelet? will it replace the iPhone? – it got me thinking about a watch (of all things) supporting the vision of real-time analytics. What sounds stupid at first (the notion of an old-fashioned personal device, around for 5 centuries with little to no innovation over such a long period, inspiring a 21st century topic such as real-time analytics) has some merits if you think about it twice.

First off, wearable computing devices are real business. According to tech analyst Juniper Research, the next-gen wearable devices market, including smart glasses, will be worth more than $1.5 billion by 2014, up from just $800 million this year.

While the majority of those devices are sold in the context of fitness and healthcare scenarios, there is applicability in modern enterprises. In fact any business process that can benefit from real-time analytics can leverage computing devices that are “at hand” and travel with us easily.

So what business processes can benefit from real-time analytics?

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21Feb/131

5 Reasons Why BI Projects Fail

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bi-project-failure-dilbertTruth time: business intelligence doesn’t have a stellar reputation when it comes to its failure rate. Gartner says it’s as much as 70%, which is unacceptable in 2013. BI offers so many advantages to companies when implemented correctly, from process improvements to cost savings, and has an ROI of $10.66 for every dollar spent – when done right. This week arcplan put out a press release on the 5 project management reasons why many BI projects are doomed to fail. Check it out and let me know if you agree!

1. Not enough focus on business benefits
Before even evaluating software providers, companies should define the business benefits they want to achieve by implementing a BI solution. Is it to aggregate data in a central location, thereby saving the time and cost associated with manual data gathering and consolidation? Is it to achieve better insight into customer data so programs can be designed to increase profits through upselling? This question is, why are we implementing the solution in the first place? Whatever the reason, it should be defined before kick-off, refined during implementation, and measured afterwards. Any project can be considered a failure if its success criteria are not stated up-front. Management – with input from users – must agree on the criteria and the vendor and project sponsors must ensure that success is measured post-implementation or they risk a lack of user acceptance. arcplan, the #1 Large Enterprise Project vendor for Business Benefits Achieved according to The BI Survey 12 – the world’s largest independent survey of BI users – solicits feedback from a constituency of end users throughout implementation because if their expectations are not met, the BI solution will always underachieve.

2. Vague scope
Anyone with project management experience will say that defining the scope is the most crucial step; without clearly defined and agreed-upon project boundaries and deliverables, there is no chance for success…

Continue reading the full press release >>

6Feb/130

How to Perform Perfect Planning

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4elementsToday, arcplan put out a press release about the 4 elements of a perfect planning process – and no, it’s not fire, earth, air, and water. You may have just emerged from your budgeting and planning season wondering if there’s a better way to go about it next time, if you can make it easier and more repeatable, or if you can help add value to the process. If so, read on. This press release covers how and why automation, linkage to corporate goals, rolling forecasts, and analytics are the keys to perfect planning.

The 4 Elements of a Perfect Planning Process

Planning can be the most dreaded activity or the most lauded, depending on how effectively the finance team manages it. But it is undoubtedly one of the most important exercises a company undergoes, as it lays out the future finance situation, which in turn should drive efficiency, improve performance, and unite everyone behind a common vision of success. As more companies around the globe deploy arcplan for budgeting, planning and forecasting, this international solution provider has compiled a list of best practices its customers follow to ensure planning perfection.

1) Automation
For many companies large and small, the planning process begins in Excel and involves a lot of manual data consolidation and time spent reconciling multiple versions of spreadsheets. This error-prone process is an incredible waste of time; planning in this way is inefficient and detracts from time that should be spent analyzing plans and working towards company goals. Automation is a better approach to aggregating plan data and has positive effects like improved consistency and time savings. A solution like arcplan Edge streamlines the consolidation process by simultaneously connecting to multiple data sources. This enables the system to act as a central repository with data entry and write-back functions, eliminating the reliance on spreadsheets by allowing planners to interact with live data in an Excel-like web interface. It also provides automated alerts based on user interaction, such as alerting managers when direct reports have completed a task in the budgeting workflow. Automation is hugely beneficial to the planning process because it enables timely completion of plans and diverts focus from the mechanics of the budgeting process to actual analysis.

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24Jan/130

Building Your BI Dashboard Foundation: A Developer’s Guide

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Over the last couple of years, the growing hype around big data analytics has rekindled interest in data visualization and a long-standing BI tool – the dashboard. BI dashboards are an avenue for presenting pertinent chunks of information at a glance, and in 2013, they can present more complex, insightful representations of data than ever before. But the key to making your dashboard usable and long-lasting is to keep it simple, organized, and intuitive.

In other words, the way to address the growing need for better analytics and visualization is not to build prettier, more animated charts. A solid foundation has to precede these bells and whistles. Here are 2 foundational dashboard elements that developers should master before moving on to the fun stuff:

1) The Path of Analysis
There are many ways to dissect and analyze data, but the first step is determining how to make the path of analysis most intuitive for users. Your options include:

  • Functional Breakdown: This is a very common way for arcplan customers to organize dashboard data. In this structure, sales reports, operations reports, or financial reports – along with their corresponding KPIs – are grouped together, providing a dedicated area for members of each department…

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