Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
21Aug/130

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

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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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14Aug/130

Seeing Through BI Vendor BS

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mustacheyouaquestionSounds provocative coming from a BI vendor, right?

arcplan is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, so it’s safe to say we’ve seen it all. We’ve competed for business against every mega vendor and every niche BI vendor out there and we’ve seen companies get burned by vendors who promise more than they can deliver. Of course it hurts to lose a deal, but since our passion is helping companies get better insights and make better decisions, it’s doubly awful to see companies get duped.

So what can you do to ensure you’ll get what’s promised from BI vendor?

1) Ask questions.
The evaluation process is your time to ask questions of the BI vendors on your shortlist. You’ll be able to do this on discovery calls and during demos, and of course if you choose to go through an RFP process, you can demand answers to every esoteric question you can dream of.

Ask about the requirements specific to your business processes. Initial questions we’ve been asked include:

  • Does arcplan allow export to Excel? (Yes, users can export to Excel as well as PowerPoint and PDF. With our Excel add-in, users can also work in Excel while remaining connected to the data source.)
  • Does arcplan offer write-back? (Yes, write-back is standard and is based on the security rights you’ve set up in your systems.)
  • How easy is it to learn arcplan? (Like any product there’s a learning curve, but arcplan is intuitive for users and simple for developers with our drag-and-drop, programming-free interface.)

Here are some additional questions to consider asking…

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8Aug/130

Business Intelligence Value for Retailers

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bi-retailHow BI facilitates a decision-making process that saves millions

At the core of every business decision is the desire to drive value for the company – whether that’s increased sales, higher margins, elevated profits, or return on investment. Decision makers should use all the resources at their disposal to drive this value, including their business intelligence software, which may include guided analytics (i.e. dashboards), ad-hoc analysis and collaboration capabilities that contribute to informed decision-making. Today I’ll explore how BI software facilitates decisions in a retail scenario. But this article isn’t just for retailers – anyone can extrapolate this information to their business to see how BI can provide concrete ROI.

arcplan serves a number of customers in the retail industry, including two of the largest grocery chains in the United States. Retailers are well-known for the small net revenue margins – on average, 3% across the globe for all types of retailers – which pose significant challenges on process controls and efficiency in supply chain decisions. One of the key areas of interest for all retailers, especially grocery chains, is the reduction of shrink – the loss of inventory due to product spoilage, waste, theft and other causes. It’s estimated to account for 2-3% of overall sales. Perishable shrink even goes up to 5% within a typical grocery chain. So for one of our customers, whose revenue reached $6.25 billion in 2012, a reduction in shrink of just 0.1% means $6.2 million to their bottom line.

So a simple question that would catalyze a decision-making process at this grocery chain might be: How can BI help reduce my shrink by 0.1% while balancing availability of goods and customer satisfaction? They would want to meet high customer expectations without over-ordering, which leads to shrink through spoilage.

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5Aug/130

On-Demand Webinar: Mobile-First BI Enabled by Responsive Design

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View-WebinarCheck out arcplan’s latest webinar – a 30-minute primer on Responsive Design and how it applies to business intelligence applications.

Mobile-First BI Enabled by Responsive Design
Recorded Date: August 13, 2013
Speakers: Dwight deVera, arcplan Senior VP; Takashi Binns, Solutions Manager

About this webinar:

Conditions are finally right for mobile business intelligence to take off: affordable, high-performance devices are in the hands of nearly 50% of the population, BYOD policies are spreading like wildfire, and users are clamoring for performance information anywhere and everywhere they are. Mobile BI is no longer just a possibility but an inevitability.

A mobile-first design philosophy is necessary in 2013 and beyond to future-proof your BI apps. But with so many different devices available to users, how do you create usable yet easy to maintain business intelligence, analysis, and planning applications that work on every one? The answer is Responsive Design.

This 30-minute webinar is a primer on Responsive Design, a concept that enables apps to dynamically adjust their layout to the end user’s screen size, resolution and orientation. We review:

  • Why Responsive Design is the best way to develop BI apps going forward
  • How you can achieve a 60-80% reduction in mobile BI development and maintenance costs
  • Examples of responsively designed dashboards

As mobile devices become the primary way of accessing BI, now is a good time to revise your strategy to “mobile-first.” Watch this webinar to learn more.

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range of device sizes_arcplan_dashboards

31Jul/130

Planning Visualizations: Forecasting Charts

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My series on planning visualizations has so far explained how to use the right chart types to tell your plan’s story. Today I’ll wrap up with a focus on using visualizations to show how your plan will hold up as the fiscal year progresses. The charts below display forecasts that are based off of 12-24 months of historical data used to predict future results.

Plan vs. Actual Spend: Bullet Visualization with Linear Regression
Good planners know that a plan shouldn’t simply be created, approved and then left to rot on a shelf somewhere. Plans should be managed and updated throughout the year. Even the best plans require changes, especially when it looks like you might be getting off track.

Say you’re a marketing director for a retailer and your fiscal year begins in January. In March, you’re starting to wonder if there will be enough funds in the budget by September to do your holiday season advertising. There’s a way to predict this information, even if you’re only a few months into the fiscal year. A finance professional might run a linear regression and stick a table in Excel to show the progressions of the budget over time. But as a marketer, you’re a visual person and might better understand a bullet chart. Plotting the actual data (in yellow) against the plan data (in gray), it’s easy to see that marketing expenses were understated in the plan from the beginning, or you simply overspent early on and won’t recover without making adjustments to spending. The red bars show just how far off spending will be vs. the plan if you don’t take corrective action:

planning-visualizations-forecast-chart

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