Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

How to Create Responsive Design Applications


Traditional Applications

Traditionally, one of the first steps to designing a dashboarding or reporting solution is to determine what screen size to use as a basis for layout. Typically, the solution’s layout will be designed to look good on a “standard” laptop. The smaller screen resolution looks a bit small on large monitors, but at least the whole application fits on the page. But that can’t be the ultimate goal, right? The advance of responsive design allows for mobile devices to view the same content, but allows for the application to be scaled up to larger monitors as well. When creating responsive applications, it is important to keep in mind what device is being used to access the solution. This should determine how much and what kind of data to provide the end user.

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5 Common Misconceptions About Business Intelligence


Even though BI has been around for decades, misconceptions still persist. These myths harm BI’s reputation and can make it difficult to achieve buy-in from stakeholders. Let’s review a few of the common misconceptions I’ve come across in my work as a BI consultant.

1) Dashboards = Business Intelligence
Certainly dashboards with at-a-glance views of KPIs are the most common form of business intelligence, but they’re not the only mechanism for consuming BI content. Many companies use dashboards for quick reviews of very important metrics, but just as many are running monthly or even daily reports with their BI software. Many of our customers use arcplan to send daily financial reports to entire departments every morning. Other BI models include self-service ad-hoc reporting, which goes beyond traditional static reporting, and data discovery, where analysts interactively explore data from multiple sources in a BI interface. Then there are many BI platforms that enable users to use BI like social media – collaborate with peers, leave comments, annotate graphs and more. The truth is, business intelligence solutions nowadays are flexible enough to accommodate however your users want to work. Don’t limit yourself to thinking dashboards are BI. They can help you monitor your business performance easily and should be a part of your BI mix, but think about what other forms of BI can contribute to the success of your initiative.

2) The most popular BI tool must be the right one for my organization
When it comes to BI, one size doesn’t fit all. The hype surrounding popular solutions doesn’t necessarily translate to value for your organization. You should evaluate whether the solutions on your shortlist are compatible with your data architecture, whether they’ll address users’ specific requirements, and whether they’re scalable for future development. You might set yourself up for failure if you only shortlist “hot” vendors. Need a starting point? Try analyst evaluations like BARC’s BI Survey. Its analysis can help you build a list of vendors to evaluate based on product capabilities and user feedback.

3) BI ROI is questionable
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Signs That Your BI Dashboard Needs a Comeback


dashboard-comebackEveryone loves a good comeback. Stories about celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Britney Spears climbing back to the top after falling so far capture our collective imagination. Movies like Rocky and Cinderella Man – about underdogs making a comeback – inspire us to think we ourselves can rebound from any setback.

Is your business intelligence dashboard the underdog at your organization? Dashboards have been around for decades, with some companies not putting the time and effort into updating them regularly to keep pace with the innovations in BI and the growing expectations of users.

Done correctly, BI dashboards are indispensable resources for decision makers, capable of bringing the most pertinent information to the forefront so leaders can take action. Conversely, BI dashboards that fall short of meeting the needs of business leaders will take a back seat in the BI toolbox or be forgotten about entirely. In order to keep decision makers coming back for more, BI dashboards must serve up relevant information, keep pace with new trends in technology, and at the same time maintain visual appeal. Read on for the 3 reasons why your BI dashboard may need a comeback.

Your KPIs aren’t KPIs…

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Building Your BI Dashboard Foundation: A Developer’s Guide


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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10 Keys to BI Dashboard Success: Part II


In my last post, I gave you 5 tips for taking your dashboards from “standard” to “world-class.” Today, I present 5 more tips that will help your dashboards become truly useful, essential daily viewing material.

Your BI dashboards should be:

6) Diverse. Incorporating data from your various in-house sources and from the cloud enhances your dashboard. Combining data to produce mashups – like retail locations with financials over Google Maps – can make your dashboard indispensable.

7) Dynamic. Static dashboards rely on historical data, neglect your organization’s present performance and set you up for failure, warns Forrester Research. Successful dashboards are dynamic and reflect the real-time changes of your business’ performance. They also offer ad-hoc capability so users can manipulate variables for further analysis and drill-down functionality so users can find root causes. See what I mean by downloading arcplan’s free trial. It features an ad-hoc tab integrated into the dashboard application.

8) Attractive. Users appreciate and are more likely to adopt a dashboard that has style and substance. What makes a dashboard attractive?

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