Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Business Intelligence Value for Retailers


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


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


Vote Now – The BI Survey 13


BI-survey13The BI Survey 13, the world’s largest survey of business intelligence users is now open through the end of June!

The survey is run by BARC, the Business Application Research Center, a leading independent software industry analyst specializing in Data Management and Business Intelligence.

The BI Survey 13 is strictly vendor-independent: BARC does not accept vendor sponsorship of the survey, and the results are analyzed and published without any vendor involvement.

You will be able to answer questions on your usage of a BI product from any vendor. Note that your rating will only be relevant for arcplan if you declare arcplan as your preferred product. Your answers will be used anonymously and your personal details will never be passed on to vendors or other third parties.

As a participant, you will:

  • Receive a summary of the results from the full survey
  • Be entered into a draw to win one of ten $50 vouchers
  • Ensure that your experiences are included in the final analyses

Click here to complete the survey online.

It should only take about 20 minutes to respond to the questionnaire. Thank you for your participation!


BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 4


smbroiROI, Customization, and Mobility

In my series so far, I’ve tackled questions about buying criteria, cloud BI vs. SaaS BI, and data management. Today is the last installment and tackles the remaining most common questions we hear from SMBs about business intelligence. This series is all about expediting and simplifying BI by dispelling myths and providing practical advice for moving beyond manual processes to automated reporting, dashboards and advanced analysis.

8) What’s the ROI for business intelligence?

This is a question we’re asked more often all the time, as SMBs know they need BI but struggle to justify the investment. BI vendors need to understand that SMBs can’t invest in solutions that don’t quickly generate returns.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of BI projects fail to meet the businesses’ objectives. I don’t bring that up to scare you away from BI, but instead to encourage you to ask the vendors on your shortlist for proof of their ROI. It’s part of your due diligence when it comes to selecting the right vendor. First, ask them about their success rate. Do they have happy and long-term customers? As an example, the average tenure of arcplan’s customers is more than 7 years, the longest of any vendor included in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence – an indicator of long-term customer satisfaction. How do the vendors on your short-list stack up?

The next step is to ask your vendor to estimate the ROI you should expect…

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What’s Wrong with Today’s BI Dashboards


Silos_smBusiness intelligence dashboards are stuck in the past. It may be controversial to say but it’s true – not much has changed over the past few decades when it comes to BI dashboards. Sure, we’ve defined some decent design rules, some guidelines for developing good, traditional dashboards. But a lot of the dashboards I see as VP of Solutions Delivery at arcplan don’t adequately address the needs of today’s executives, who need cross-functional views of KPIs from various departments in order to make good decisions. We aren’t living in a silo’ world; decision makers need regular access to KPIs from finance, marketing, sales, operations and HR to make good decisions. Do you have a dashboard that enables this kind of view?

If not, let’s examine what’s wrong with your BI dashboards:

1. Their silo’d foundation is a hindrance.
In the early years of data warehouse development, data was stored according to functional areas or departments. Finance, Sales, and Operations each had their own data marts and corresponding dashboards for each department. In today’s business environment, dashboards that are silo’d like your data don’t accommodate your needs. With hundreds or even thousands at KPIs in use at your company – and limited time to access and evaluate them all – a silo’d approach to data access is problematic. You need to access important information at a moment’s notice, not waste time logging into individual systems or viewing separate dashboards to get the data you need to make informed decisions. You’ve probably quickly grown weary of this process and you may even be settling for whatever information is most convenient to use, which – needless to say – is usually not the best option. An ideal dashboard solution bridges multiple information sources to give you a holistic view of the organization – one that matches your role and includes only relevant KPIs.

2. There’s a “Where’s Waldo?” element to finding the right KPIs.
Recently I had a meeting with one of arcplan’s customers in the US, who explained that their arcplan system has grown to manage 4,000 KPIs in just 5 years.

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