Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

When Analytics and Collaboration Intersect


Fueled by the big data hype and the need to extract greater business value from data, investment in business analytics software is on the rise. Many companies have begun to tap into the potential of big data analytics and this number is predicted to increase according to recent reports by the International Data Corporation (IDC). IDC forecasts that the market will continue to grow at a 9.8% compound annual growth rate through 2016 to reach $50.7 billion. Perhaps to a less aggressive extent, interest in Collaborative BI is also on the rise, with top performing companies incorporating collaborative techniques to share knowledge throughout the enterprise according to Aberdeen’s extensive 2011 research report on Collaborative BI. The demands for agile insight and self-service are changing the landscape of BI, driving the need for Collaborative BI, which uses social functionality to improve business decision-making. Separately, the benefits of deploying analytical tools and taking advantage of collaborative techniques are appealing for any organization seeking streamlined operational success – but the payback of merging these initiatives could be even more rewarding.

Analytics is gaining traction in the BI arena due to the need to explore massive amounts of varied information (what we now call big data), extract valuable insight, and quickly deliver these insights to the users who need it. Initiatives geared toward improving analytics utilize technology that gathers and organizes data from disparate data sources and provides a platform for in-depth analysis, yielding benefits such as improved business operations and agility, increased sales, and lower IT costs. So it’s no wonder that organizations are making significant investments in the analytics market.

Collaborative BI, on the other hand, seems to be the new kid on the block…

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Designing Olympic “A” Standard BI Dashboards


With trials for the 2012 Olympic Games in London almost complete, as a diehard trackie, I can’t help but reflect on the amazing standards that athletes must meet or exceed in order to qualify for their respective events. For instance, the “A” standard for the men’s 100 meter event is 10.18 seconds – that’s faster than the time it would take for many of us to boot up our computers. The standard for women’s high jump is 1.95 meters or about 6 feet, 4.7 inches – so an “A” standard athlete could easily clear the height of a very tall person. Olympic hopefuls work diligently to meet (or exceed) these high standards. Likewise, in a quest for excellence, we in the business intelligence world should strive to improve the design of our BI dashboards – the ones that guide our daily decision-making. We should be reviewing their effectiveness at least yearly. To that end, we’ve compiled a simple checklist to guide your dashboards towards the “A” standard.

Whittle them down to only the most relevant and timely information. With all the excitement around big data and the need to analyze vast amounts of information in order to spot trends, it’s easy to be swept away in a deluge of data and be distracted from what really matters. As excited as you (or the users you serve) may be to display all kinds of new information, remember that some data is a distraction rather than relevant to the decision-making process. So be cautious of the information overload that can hinder the effectiveness of your dashboards. Each organization must determine what really matters to decision-makers (this will vary between them) and center dashboards around the metrics most relevant to each department.

Implement appropriate design. When it comes to dashboards, looks do matter. But dashboards aren’t just eye candy. They’ve become a standard point of reference for business managers and executives who need to monitor company operations – often at a glance – in order to make timely decisions. In a 2011 interview with Dashboard Insight, Stephen Few, author of bestselling books on dashboard design and data visualization best practices (and also inventor of the bullet graph), explains…

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5 Reasons Why Collaborative BI is Practical For Your Organization


Though Collaborative BI is still new, it’s gaining traction, with 15% of BI deployments to include collaborative elements by 2013 according to Gartner. A recent survey by author and analyst Wayne Eckerson revealed many BI professionals believe that collaboration tools have a positive impact on analysis and decision-making activities. So while some in the BI world are seeing its value, the others may appreciate our list of 5 reasons why Collaborative BI could be a practical solution for your organization if you’re trying to expand the reach of BI to more users and get closer to “one version of the truth.”

1) Collaborative BI solutions are designed for every type of user, even the most casual. They allow business users, executives, and managers to access the reports and dashboards created by power users and IT, which a) extends the reach of these often under-used analyses and 2)  means putting information into the hands of more people in the organization who can benefit from data in their decision-making process.

2) Collaborative BI provides a sanity check for your BI content. Is it relevant and accurate? Let the wisdom of the crowd decide. Report utilization statistics help your BI Competency Center and IT department determine which reports should be kept and maintained and which can be archived. Only the best content rises to the top.

3) Collaborative BI solutions engage users in ways they are already familiar with from Web 2.0 sites (Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, etc), so they need little to no training to make use of the system…

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Collaborative BI Brings Consumer Culture to Business Decision-Making


Today I’m sharing an article I wrote with our readers. In it, I discuss the social features that make Collaborative BI easy for anyone to use, what’s driving Collaborative BI adoption, and why we’ll soon see its use skyrocket at organizations that want to improve access to information for all users and in turn, the decision-making process.

The bottom line? “In a collaborative environment, the power is in the end users’ hands. They expect data to be available on all of their devices, from desktop PCs to tablets to smartphones. They want their most frequently needed reports accessible via widgets. They want BI that takes unstructured data into account and makes it searchable. They want to collaborate and provide feedback about reports in an attractive interface that is designed around how they work. Ultimately, users need the ability to subscribe to BI in a self-service manner.” And Collaborative BI makes this all possible.

Check out the article on Information Management’s website >>


4 Ways to Prepare Your BI Solution for International Deployment


Companies that strive to grow and thrive rely on the insight gleaned from their business intelligence system. But when international growth is on the agenda, some businesses forget to prime their BI system for that change. At arcplan there are plenty of experts in this area since so many of our customers are multi-national companies, so we put together this list of items to prepare your international BI deployment for success. With Gartner’s 2012 global survey of CIOs revealing that business intelligence/analytics is their top-ranked technology priority this year, this list is more important than ever to guarantee that your BI system serves users worldwide.

1) Multi-Language Support
BI systems that will be used by employees in more than one country must be multilingual. While users in the U.S. see English or Spanish, users in Germany must have the option to display the system in German. Even better, the system should be able to identify a user’s language via the operating system settings and display their native language automatically. This first point is critical to the success of your system worldwide. If a business intelligence solution hinders useage due to something as simple as language support, it will never take off. Some configuration may be required, but this extra effort will always be worth it.

2) Multi-Currency Support
Any BI system deployed globally must be able to handle multiple currencies and should default to the users’ local currency. In Mexico, users should see all values displayed as pesos; in Canada, users should see values in Canadian dollars – always with the option to convert to U.S. dollars, euros, or any other currency the company uses. Paramount here is also the ability for the BI solution to display local decimal style, i.e. commas vs. periods. In the U.S., decimals are notated with periods (2.45), whereas most of Europe uses decimal commas (2,45). Your business intelligence should comply automatically.

3) Point-of-View Settings

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