Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
21Jun/130

Finding the Right Analytics Engine For Your Business

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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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11Jun/130

BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 4

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smbroiROI, Customization, and Mobility

In my series so far, I’ve tackled questions about buying criteria, cloud BI vs. SaaS BI, and data management. Today is the last installment and tackles the remaining most common questions we hear from SMBs about business intelligence. This series is all about expediting and simplifying BI by dispelling myths and providing practical advice for moving beyond manual processes to automated reporting, dashboards and advanced analysis.

8) What’s the ROI for business intelligence?

This is a question we’re asked more often all the time, as SMBs know they need BI but struggle to justify the investment. BI vendors need to understand that SMBs can’t invest in solutions that don’t quickly generate returns.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of BI projects fail to meet the businesses’ objectives. I don’t bring that up to scare you away from BI, but instead to encourage you to ask the vendors on your shortlist for proof of their ROI. It’s part of your due diligence when it comes to selecting the right vendor. First, ask them about their success rate. Do they have happy and long-term customers? As an example, the average tenure of arcplan’s customers is more than 7 years, the longest of any vendor included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence – an indicator of long-term customer satisfaction. How do the vendors on your short-list stack up?

The next step is to ask your vendor to estimate the ROI you should expect…

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31May/130

On-Demand Webinar: Visualizations to Make You a Better Budgeter

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View-WebinarView this arcplan webinar at your convenience – it’s 30 minutes on the next big trend in budgeting and planning.

Visualizations to Make You a Better Budgeter
Recorded Date: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Duration: 30 minutes
Speaker: Dwight deVera, SVP of Professional Services at arcplan

About this webinar:

Wouldn’t you love it if your budgets told you where you can make the biggest impact? If you no longer had to sift through pages and pages of numbers looking for ways to cut spending and hoping those changes will make a difference?

arcplan_planning_dashboard_smThe next big trend in planning is tactical planning dashboards that plot your plan data on charts that point out exactly where budget vs. actual will start to go south, what cost centers are having the most negative impact on the budget, and at what point products start to become unprofitable. These visualizations are a much more effective way to see where you can impact your budget than learning how to read an anatomically correct financial statement and guessing where adjustments should be made.

We present:

  • A visualization model that tells you where to focus your energy to make the biggest impact on your budgets and plans
  • The chart types that are most effective for your plan data
  • Examples of planning dashboards you can emulate

This webinar is for:

  • Non-finance professionals who need help becoming better budgeters and planners
  • Finance professionals who want their plan users to be more effective

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28May/133

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

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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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23May/130

BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 3

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Data Management_arcplanData Management & the Continued Use of Excel

Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t able to afford business intelligence software platforms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, that’s no longer an obstacle with the rise of affordable, easy to use BI tools like arcplan. Once you’ve decided that you need better, faster answers to your business questions, you start to get into the nitty gritty details of what a BI deployment means and how you need to prepare your data. Let’s continue with our series on the most frequently asked questions SMBs have when it comes to BI. This time I’ll address questions about data management and spreadsheets.

5) How much data do we need?

The #1 technology challenge for SMBs is getting insight from the data they already have. The average SMB has over 27 unique data sources according to research conducted by The Aberdeen Group – from ERP systems and General Ledgers to CRM tools, social media and more. Your company should carefully consider the amount, type, and “freshness” of data that your organization requires for its reporting.

Ask yourself:

  • How many data sources are really critical to our decision-making?
  • Do we need real-time data access or will daily or weekly updates do the job?
  • How far back do we need to go? Do we need 5-year-old data or is only recent data important?

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