Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Customizable BI Software: 5 Things You Can Look Forward To


custom-bi-softwareIn my last post, I put to rest some myths about BI software customization. Today I’d like to continue rooting for configurable business intelligence by explaining the benefits you can look forward to with a custom solution.

1) You’ll get a BI solution that fits your needs , without compromise.
The most successful BI solution is one that fits your business requirements like a glove. Since each organization has unique business processes, these requirements will differ from one organization to the next. With a custom BI solution, finance teams for instance can take advantage of a personalized planning tool that reflects their existing process. Some of the planning vendors arcplan encounters offer an out-of-the-box solution that forces customers to mold to a specific process, instead of the other way around. This lengthens the adoption process, causes disruptive process changes, and adds training costs. When your BI software forces you to compromise on features, you won’t end up with an ideal end result. With a custom solution, you can get all of the unique features your organization needs – and as I said previously, it doesn’t need to take years and or demolish your budget.

2) You’ll enjoy a gradual learning curve.
In your fast-paced business environment, you need to spend time doing the work that brings in revenue and less time learning complicated technology. A custom BI solution can be tailored to how your team currently works, and a product like arcplan can ease the transition by enabling users to work in their most familiar interface – Excel. Because our solutions are customized, you might choose an Excel-like web interface, or want to work directly in Excel while having access to live data, which is something a lot of our customers like. This kind of solution helps users learn the technology very quickly and seamlessly transition to their new BI solution.

3) Configuration and project rollout can be done in phases.

Continue reading this post >>


“Customization” – A Dirty Word in the BI Software World?


customization-dirty-wordI’ve heard two schools of thought on the subject of whether customization of BI software is a good or bad thing. The first says that customizing a solution essentially leaves you with custom code that requires hours of development, high-priced consultants, and difficulty upgrading in the future. The second says that all BI software is customized to a certain extent, so why not make it exactly what you need and turn your BI solution into a competitive advantage for your company?

You want and need BI software that’s going to solve your problems, connect your data, give you visibility, and yield a decent ROI. Howard Dresner’s 2012 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study revealed that users want a BI solution “that’s going to help them right now…something that is very usable, very intuitive,” and they don’t want to “wait for lengthy projects that are expensive to conclude before they get any value.” You may think the fastest route to this kind of intuitive solution is one that’s out-of-the-box – or purports to be – even if it doesn’t meet your business requirements 100%. It’s the classic “build vs. buy” conundrum.

I have seen some buyers literally cringe at the word “customizable” because of its negative connotations. It’s associated with off-putting outcomes like lengthy implementation times and high costs. But I’d like to debunk the myths about customizable BI solutions and offer some reasons why a configurable solution can actually work to your advantage.

Myth #1: Customization is limited to custom reports.

Continue reading this post >>


Meet Us At CFO Magazine’s 2013 Corporate Performance Management Conference!


CFO CPMI’d like to extend an invite to our readers to attend CFO Magazine’s CPM Conference in Philadelphia at the end of this month (January 27-29 at the Loews Hotel). Attendees will learn best practices for linking finance with IT to drive performance, network with fellow finance professionals, earn CPE credits, and return to work with new ideas for maximizing corporate performance.

Check out the agenda, learn more about the event, and register here >>

arcplan is a Roundtable Sponsor, so we’ll be holding 2 roundtable discussions during breakfast on January 29th. You’ll need to sign up in advance for one of our topics:

Not Your Father’s Financial Statement
The standard financial reporting process that your organization uses to manage itself has been in existence for over a century. There is no reason why executives should settle for financial statements that were first designed prior to the existence of computers. Join us to discuss best practice techniques to visualize the data locked in your financial systems and alternative formats for your financial statements. Let’s talk about making your statements more visual and interactive with ratio analysis using radar graphs, historical performance using bridge and waterfall analysis – in effect, let’s discuss how to make your company’s financial data more consumable to a broader audience.

Next-Generation Budgeting for Contract, Capital and Indirect Projects
Your organization’s budgeting process used to be simple when your business wasn’t so complex. The act of revenue, expense and capital planning used to be a singular exercise. With many organizations moving to more project-based budgeting and planning for contract, capital and indirect projects, the challenge for modern-day CFOs is to keep up with each budgeting project as its own business unit. The session will review some of the key challenges associated with differentiating financial project planning vs. traditional program and project management planning, managing multiple budget threads and rolling up this data into a final integrated budget, identifying organization and resource constraints in a project-based organization, and utilizing technology to automate larger budgeting processes with the same amount of resources.

Will we see you at Corporate Performance Management 2013?


Responsive Design + Metro Design = A Match Made In BI Heaven


responsive-design-metro-arcplanWith the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand – smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. But switching devices in the workplace is not always so effortless, especially when it comes to using business intelligence (BI) applications.

A new wave of design options is changing this, making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development – apps that are clean and modern, and designed for quick consumption of data and taking action. This article covers the trend toward two design concepts: Responsive Design and Metro Design, both of which are essential to next-generation BI applications that increase productivity on all devices. I’ll also explain how arcplan’s BI solutions are leading the way.

In 2013, users will come to expect “BI anywhere,” which puts the burden on designers to create BI apps tailored not only to users’ needs, but also their device preferences – particularly if the organization has a bring your own device policy (BYOD). The intelligent approach – utilizing Responsive Design principles – is to create one application (like a dashboard or report) for all devices, where the layout adapts to the appropriate screen size, resolution, and orientation.

Continue reading this post >>


Business Intelligence Trends 2013: The Breakthrough of Do It Yourself BI and the Breakup of Big Data


arcplan recently examined the trends that will shape the BI landscape in 2013 – self-service BI, collaboration, and mobile BI. Under the umbrella of Do It Yourself BI (DIY BI), these trends will come to the forefront and big data will lose steam. It might be controversial to say, but we have our reasons.

Enterprises are demanding an increased focus on cost reductions and customer profitability – typically under business users’ purview – which constantly impacts the development of BI as business users are driving future trends. In 2013, business users will demand easier ways to access and analyze data, pushing their employers to purchase the self-service tools that BI vendors have been developing over the past few years and leading to a true breakthrough of DIY BI. Beyond that, the big data challenge has not yet been solved with an easy-to-digest solution, causing a lot of the hype to die down next year (for good reason). Let’s examine these trends further:

DIY BI Part I: Self-Service BI
In the past, BI was limited to a few expert analysts and users in the IT department. No doubt it has come a long way since. More and more BI users are taking over tasks traditionally dominated by IT developers, such as report development, dashboard creation, and ad-hoc reporting. In fact, Forrester Research advocates that 80% of BI tasks should be in the hands of business users themselves – and these business users need easy-to-use interfaces, programming-free BI app creation, the ability to search, write-back and drill-down, and data exploration capabilities.

In 2013, the delays associated with IT will be brushed aside in favor of the speed, control, and rapid access that comes along with self-service BI. The demand will increase for modern ad-hoc tools that allow users to directly tap the corporate data warehouse and provide a high degree of flexibility to slice-and-dice the data for insight on the fly. In-memory technology, advanced visualizations, and the broader emergence of HTML5 will support developers in creating multifaceted web-based apps that run on any device via a standard web browser and offer simple, intuitive self-service features every type of user can enjoy. Users will become more self-sufficient in 2013, able to get the information they need in order to optimize and accelerate their decision making processes.

DIY BI Part II: Collaboration

Continue reading this post >>