Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Happy Holidays!










Thanks to our loyal readers for inspiring us to share ideas with you every week on this Business Intelligence Blog. We look forward to bringing you more great content in 2012. Here’s some of the ideas we’re cooking up:

  • A series on Big Data – the trend explained, and concrete ways big data can help your business outperform the competition
  • 10 Ways Out of BI Chaos
  • 5 Traps of Mobile BI
  • 10 Pieces of Advice for Better BI Reporting
  • More on the trend of BI in the cloud
  • …and more

Count on arcplan’s blog to keep you informed of the latest BI trends. Have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year! We’ll be back in January!


Webinar Recording: Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects


In case you missed arcplan’s webinar on December 13th, Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


In this webinar, we discuss:

  • What ROI terminology really means so you can speak the same language as your finance team
  • The 6 kinds of “return” you should expect from your BI project
  • The 5 BI projects that never pay off
  • A 7-step methodology for calculating the ROI of your BI project

Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, let us know if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.


BI + Excel: A Match Made in Power-User Heaven


What’s the most popular reporting and planning tool out there? As much as I’d like the answer to be “arcplan” – it’s not. Even in 2011, it’s “Excel.” Excel has been around for 25 years and believe it or not, it’s still the most often used technology in 60% of the organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011.

There are so many reasons analysts and planners love Excel: it’s easy to use, adjusting reports takes seconds, it’s the perfect tool for local ad-hoc analysis, and it has an extensive formula and function library to address complex calculations. On the other hand, there are times when Excel falls short. After the manual process of collecting, consolidating and reconciling data, Excel leaves little to no time for actual analysis. And worst of all, you may find that your data is outdated or fraught with errors, which compromises your ability to make business-critical decisions. Unfortunately, Excel also lacks data security, which is a paramount concern for IT professionals.

Truly, I’m not bashing Excel here. I’m a data analyst myself and I help our clients develop Excel-like BI applications, so I understand that Excel has its benefits. Power users are going to want to use Excel, at least for the foreseeable future. So consider this how you can reconcile the use of Excel at your organization. The answer may be as simple as your BI system’s Excel add-in!

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Webinar Recording: Beyond Excel for BI


In case you missed our webinar on 11/2, Beyond Excel for BI, here’s the recording to view at your convenience:


We discussed why people love and hate Excel, often at the same time; how you know you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet-based analysis or planning model; how BI augments your current efforts; the benefits of Excel add-ins; and a case study of a customer who eliminated the collection of 150 cost center spreadsheets per month. We also showed a Financial Briefing Book BI application that integrates the best things about Excel, while ensuring data security, allowing write-back to the database, eliminating manual work, and enabling scheduled distribution of reports.

We had a great turn-out and the audience asked a lot of questions. Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, let us know if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.


What HTML5 Means for Mobile BI


What changes you as a customer can anticipate over the next 12 months

You may have heard of HTML5 by now, the fifth version of the language used to present content on the web. But what’s the big deal? Let’s take a look at how HTML5 is changing the mobile BI landscape and what benefits you’re going to reap if you’re part of the 22% of organizations that are planning to deploy mobile BI in the near future.

HTML5 is a big push forward from our current version, especially with regard to how it handles media (audio, video) as well as cross-device portability. Both are key areas pertinent to BI software providers who are working in the mobile space – especially those like arcplan that are delivering “web apps” to customers – applications that run through mobile browsers on smartphones and tablet PCs, eliminating the need to create separate apps for different devices. The debate about web apps vs. native apps has been raging over the past year. Here’s my take.

Today native apps or even HTML4-based web apps require application or infrastructure customizations for every different device type or technology, which makes them cumbersome to maintain over time – cumbersome for the vendors of such software solutions, but even more so for the customers deploying applications to their field staff. Not every organization can standardize on one device, so maintenance costs for mobile BI can be high – or at least higher than expected.

But this will change with HTML5. As it matures, the authors plan to allow future HTML5 browsers to (securely) access sensor and touch information, simply eradicating most of the arguments in favor of native app development. The new functions of HTML5 will help BI vendors provide cost-efficient mobile BI options to customers so they can reuse existing desktop applications on mobile devices.

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