Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
24Jul/120

When Analytics and Collaboration Intersect

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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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13Jul/120

3 Ways Self-Service BI Aids Decision-Making

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There’s a lot of talk about expanding the reach of business intelligence beyond the 15-25% of potential users currently using BI solutions. Certainly it’s one of our core missions at arcplan. With nearly everyone in an organization making decisions every day that affect the company, getting this remaining 75% of potential users to answer their business questions with data is imperative. The solution is self-service BI – tools that allow users to navigate and visualize data themselves to get the answers they need to make important business decisions on their timeline. In many ways, self-service BI is synonymous with user freedom since business users need not wait for the IT department to fulfill report requests, but instead are able to generate queries on their own and tailor reports according to their requirements.

We spent some time thinking about the ways self-service aids decision-making. Check out our list and let us know if you have more to add to it!

1) It gives users access to real-time information for faster decision-making.
Ad-hoc reporting, one of the tools under the self-service umbrella, allows users to create new connections between data not previously found in static reports and generate new insights on their own. According to Cindi Howson’s report, The Five Myths of Self-Service BI, executives and managers are a segment of users beyond power users and IT developers who derive value from ad-hoc reporting. If given the chance, a sales director for instance would use an easy ad-hoc solution like arcplan Spotlight to run a query of YTD product sales and compare performance across different regions, rather than wait a week or more for IT to deliver the same information to him. He could also save that query privately or publish it publicly, giving his entire team access to it for future reference. He could even select that report for automatic delivery via e-mail, where it will include the most updated data. The ability to access real-time data and create new reports on the fly means that business users get immediate answers to business questions and can make decisions based on current (versus outdated) information.

2) It addresses specific user needs for greater efficiency.
Self-service tools target the specific needs of users, allowing them to glean the most value out their BI and enabling more efficient decision-making…

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8Jun/120

5 Reasons Why Collaborative BI is Practical For Your Organization

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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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1Jun/120

Collaborative BI Brings Consumer Culture to Business Decision-Making

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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 >>

7May/120

Enterprise Collaboration vs. Collaborative BI: What’s the Difference?

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In recent months we’ve explored Collaborative BI as a growing trend and how it’s gaining popularity as an extension of traditional business intelligence solutions. Despite all the hype around this topic, it can be confusing to determine what makes Collaborative BI unique. I’ve seen the terms “Collaborative BI” and “enterprise collaboration” used interchangeably a lot lately, and while both may fall under the categories “Collaborative Decision-Making” or “Knowledge Management,” there are distinctions between the two that are important to understand.

Enterprise Collaboration
Though enterprise collaboration and Collaborative BI share some of the same features – the ability for users to interact like they would on social media, for example, rating, tagging, and commenting on content – enterprise collaboration is less specific about the type of interaction employees have. These platforms, like SharePoint and Socialcast, enable users to chat with each other, post blogs and wikis, make announcements, view the activity streams of other users, collaborate on projects, take polls, and generally do all the things they’d do in a workplace – but online. They provide a secure place for business users to work together and eliminate some of the need for project-related e-mails, phone calls, meetings, and shared drives. This article on CMS Wire gives a great example of how enterprise collaboration can improve the work life of a manager and his project team. It’s all about workflow and process-driven decision-making (as opposed to data-driven decision-making, which Collaborative BI facilitates).

Here are two ways that enterprise collaboration may look at your company:

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