Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

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.


Free BI Webinar – Beyond Excel for BI


Join arcplan Wednesday, November 2nd at 2pm Eastern for Beyond Excel for BI to learn how business intelligence software can augment your analysis and planning efforts without completely abandoning spreadsheets.

Analysts and financial planners love their spreadsheets. And why not? They make it easy to tweak reports, employ formulas, and massage your data. In fact, spreadsheets are the most often used technology in 60% of organizations surveyed by Ventana Research in August 2011. They have become an indispensable tool for calculations, modeling, analysis, and planning.

But Excel is not necessarily the best choice for every scenario. If you think you’ve outgrown your spreadsheet model, or you’re encountering more and more situations where Excel is failing to meet your needs, then it’s time to think about the next step – business intelligence software.

BI that embraces Excel users is possible. If you’re considering making the move to BI software and want to know the pros and cons, this webinar is designed for you.

In this webinar, we will:

  • Discuss how BI software can augment your current analysis and planning efforts
  • Present a case study of a global organization that moved from spreadsheets to BI and show you its ROI analysis
  • Demonstrate a BI system with a familiar spreadsheet interface that allows data entry, write-back, secure distribution of reports, and more
  • Give you proven arguments you can take to a) your executives to gain support for BI and b) your team to gain the support of current Excel users

Your analytic technology needs to provide you many things: direct access to your source data, the ability to take action, the quick generation of presentations and other reports, and easy navigation and drill-down to name a few. Join us on November 2nd to learn how these (completely reasonable) requests can be fulfilled by BI, without leaving Excel completely behind.

Date: Wednesday, November 2
Time: 2:00 pm Eastern (New York City time zone)
Presenter: Mark Flyamer, Senior Solutions Manager
Register: Click here

BI for SMBs: How to Select the Right Business Intelligence Solution for Your Size Business


Business Intelligence (BI) is not just for Fortune 1000 companies anymore. Many small- and medium-sized businesses are moving beyond manually tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in spreadsheets and are making use of the same analytics and reporting that large enterprises rely on. Deploying BI is a big decision for any company, but especially for SMBs with limited resources and budget constraints.

The first step to implementing a BI solution is to develop a list of good buying criteria. While each company has a unique set of priorities, a standard set of rules for the majority of SMBs is to adopt solutions that:

  • Are easy to install, configure and manage
  • Require minimal customization and are simple to use
  • Don’t increase demand on already limited IT resources
  • Can easily integrate with existing systems
  • Have straight-forward and simple pricing
  • Can be consumed in modular components and extended when required
  • Are relevant and proven in same-size and same-industry companies

There are a number of BI vendors with easy to use, affordable, and scalable software solutions that offer an ideal entry point into BI so you can take your decision-making to the next level. You simply need to find the right solution that fits your individual business needs.


BI for SMBs: Top Considerations for Deploying BI in 2012


There is evidence SMBs are ahead of the curve when it comes to performance management. A 2010 Aberdeen Group study found that mid-sized companies outperformed their larger counterparts during the most recent economic slow-down and are more likely to use performance metrics pervasively throughout the organization. If you’re one of these businesses – or would like to be – you can cultivate a culture of fact-based decision-making by making the move from manual tracking of KPIs to the widespread use of business intelligence. BI is not just for large enterprises anymore!

Deploying BI is a big decision for any company, but especially for SMBs with limited resources and budget constraints. These are the top 3 considerations for SMBs starting BI projects in the next 12 months:

1) Spreadsheets – continue using Excel or stop? Excel is still the most pervasive analytics tool in the world and also the most commonly used database – especially for planners – because it is relatively easy to use and inexpensive. The good news is that there is a way to marry the best part of Excel into a BI infrastructure. In such a system, Excel is used for analysis and is directly connected to the reporting database so you can automate your reporting in a familiar environment. (Want to learn more? Click here.)

2) Your vendor approach – best of breed or single vendor? In the best of breed approach, you would plug the best product for your specific task into your BI stack. Smaller niche vendors are eager to provide the best products and services at a more affordable price than megavendors. Going with a single stack can be expensive and locks you in, but it does offer you access to a suite of products that should work together if your needs change/grow in the future.

3) Deployment strategy – SaaS or hosted?

Continue reading this post >>


Teradata PARTNERS User Group Conference 2011 Recap


If you follow arcplan news, you’ve probably heard about our new partnership with Teradata. We just got back from exhibiting at the Teradata PARTNERS User Group Conference (TDPUG) in San Diego late last week and we’re blown away by how well we were received at the show.

Overall, the show was positive and encouraging, with Teradata’s customers really looking to partners for ways to extend the reach of their existing infrastructure and drive utilization and data storage within Teradata.

We met with so many data architects, DBAs, BI managers, and analysts who were excited over arcplan’s status as the only partner to support Teradata’s new OLAP connector without the need for a semantic layer. We talked to many Teradata customers who have already installed (or are in the final stages of installing) the OLAP connector in order to directly integrate a BI solution into their Teradata Warehouse. That’s what arcplan does, and it saves developers time – time to value, time to build reports, dashboards, and other analytic applications…and it also saves money since it requires less resources and less infrastructure.

We demo’d arcplan’s support for the Teradata OLAP connector and heard a lot of interest in the fact that arcplan takes the power of Excel (the only other way to access the OLAP interface directly) and broadens it to the casual business user of BI – those who need intuitive access to their reports and dashboards either on their desktop browser or on any mobile device. In fact, I spent most of the show walking around with my iPad out, showing arcplan + Teradata everywhere I went (as you can see in the picture).

We also spoke with attendees in the finance function, or IT managers responsible for budgeting and planning support, whose interest was piqued by our integrated platform, which combines reporting with budgeting and planning capabilities (allowing Teradata customers to leverage their existing infrastructure and expertise to address this additional organizational need!).

We’ll definitely be back next year. In the meantime, if you have questions about how arcplan works with Teradata, or if you’re a Teradata customer who is exploring the OLAP connector, email us or leave us a comment!