Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Collaborative BI On-Demand Webinar


View-WebinarCheck out our free on-demand webinar, Collaborative BI: From Theory to Practice, presented by our SVP Dwight deVera. This webinar cuts through the hype to show you why Collaborative BI deserves to be on of the year’s hottest BI topics.

According to Gartner, improved decision making is by far the #1 driver of business intelligence investments in 2012 and beyond. Although companies continue to make significant investments in BI infrastructure, support for collaboration has been the missing component, often resulting in poor outcomes. So what can you do to ensure that your existing investments are being utilized, that adoption continues to grow, and that your BI system is contributing to improved decision-making? The answer might be Collaborative BI.

Collaborative BI is one of the hottest trends for 2012, but there’s a lot of theory floating around and not a lot of practical use cases being talked about. This webinar cuts through the hype around Collaborative BI and shows you its real-world implications.

View this webinar to learn:

  • How Collaborative BI systems differ from enterprise collaboration platforms
  • How Collaborative BI helps you decide which reports deliver valid, actionable information to aid your decision-making process and which reports are a waste of your time
  • How the “wisdom of the crowd” can fuel confidence in your existing reports and entice regular business users to actively engage with them for better decision-making
  • The main criteria you should look for in your in Collaborative BI solution

We also show a brief demo of arcplan Engage, the only Collaborative BI solution on the market that allows users to search and engage with structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, including arcplan, e-mail, SharePoint, and other BI systems.

Collaboration is the future of BI and that future is now. Watch this webinar to learn why collaboration is the key to helping knowledge workers make better business decisions based on the information that already exists in your enterprise.


4 Things I Learned About BI Strategy from Playing Scrabble


I enjoy a good game of Scrabble, whether with a friend or with a fellow enthusiast online. Recently in a really close game, I was able to clinch my victory by strategically placing an “x” to spell “xi,” earning me a final 27 points. Though I’m no expert at Scrabble, I’ve picked up a few strategies that apply to the business intelligence world:

1) Planning matters.
Scrabble is all about planning and strategy. You may have a great word lined up on your rack but you can’t just play it anywhere. You need to plan ahead, consider your opponent’s next move and the remaining open spaces on the board. Similarly, your business needs to plan ahead and BI software facilitates that planning. Just like you lay out your Scrabble tiles over and over to plan for maximum word score, budgeting & planning software allows finance teams to perform monthly re-forecasting and rolling forecasts that help your business adjust to changing market conditions. The automation built into BI software makes it possible to be more forward-thinking since there’s more time for analysis and less manual data entry and consolidation.

2) Analyze the changing environment.
So you’ve just made your move and now you have to refresh your rack with new letters. The board has changed and so have your options. In Scrabble, your playing environment constantly changes just like in the real world. How quickly can your business react to market changes? BI software like arcplan enables what-if, best case and worst case scenario planning, which are critical to an enterprise’s long-term stability and growth. What about trend spotting? Maybe you notice your opponent tending to place 4-letter words, allowing you to somewhat anticipate his or her next move. Spotting and reacting to trends is crucial for businesses that want to compete. Do you have an analytic tool in place that allows you to visually spot patterns, analyze data on the fly for underlying causes, and make decisions that will move your company in the right direction? When businesses first get to know arcplan, the application we show them is a dashboard app that features an ad-hoc component. This app allows users to explore the patterns they see on their dashboard in greater detail. Business intelligence provides insight beyond just reporting; it’s the analysis that helps you make sense of the data and get insight that enables better decisions.

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An Ode to Openness in Collaborative BI


2011 brought tons of news and speculation about the rise of mobile BI, which has given way to actual deployments in 2012 (an estimated 22% of companies using BI this year plan to implement mobile BI in 2012[1]). 2012 will bring news of the next wave: Collaborative BI, with an estimated 15% of BI applications to include collaborative aspects by 2013, according to Gartner[2]. I expect that number to be even higher as companies see the value of collaborative BI throughout this year and knowledge workers start clamoring for greater access to information to improve their decision making.

I’ve pondered the impact of Collaborative BI before, but lately I’ve noticed that one aspect often left out of the conversation – open access to all BI content within an organization. Many analysts have been talking about various vendors’ Collaborative BI platforms and accepting their silo’d approach, but I believe the silo story isn’t healthy. Restricting content to one vendor’s BI reports and dashboards goes against everything that collaboration is about. To make the best decisions possible, employees require access to any and all data that can help them, regardless of whether it’s housed in arcplan or a competitor’s BI product, or even unstructured content like an e-mail or a document on an internal SharePoint portal.

Going further, user-contributed content has to be part of the “openness” mix. This means that IT has to loosen the grip on what is considered relevant BI content and allow users themselves to enrich the collaboration database with reports from the Web – like a lead dashboard for example.

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Collaboration – the Future of Decision Making?


Perhaps every generation says this at least once, but I believe we’re in the midst of a very interesting time. The world is getting more social everyday with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where we can find old friends, colleagues and even relatives online with a single click. We may even find new people to follow through social media tools’ recommendations and can form relationships online and offline with them. Hundreds of millions of users are making decisions online all the time – who to follow, what content seems interesting, what topics to promote.

Our social media feeds make it obvious who to engage with about a particular topic – a friend may post frequently about sports and you can go to him with thoughts or questions – but that type of insight is not widely available at the place where we spent most of our time: work. We lack intelligence when it comes to the enterprise decision making process. It follows that we should apply the same principles of social media in our corporate environments to identify which colleague can help us make decisions. Applying social media functions that allow users to rate, tag, and comment about corporate content is the answer. Enterprises gain insight into the most used reports and dashboards at the company, report authors get instant feedback and enhancement requests from users, and users gain from the existing expertise of colleagues.

This idea has led to a new category of business intelligence software that Gartner describes as Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) and Collaborative BI. Gartner considers such platforms an emerging trend to fill the gap in decision support for tactical and strategic decisions most often made by knowledge workers.

“By 2013, 15% of BI and analytic applications will combine BI, collaboration and social software in decision-making environments.” – Gartner Group

BI vendors are following this path, creating matching solutions that serve as an interface to your wealth of corporate data. Is the market ready to deploy these solutions?

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Resolutions to Optimize BI in 2012


2011 is rapidly winding down, and we’re talking to a lot of customers who are currently planning their BI initiatives for 2012. The New Year brings resolutions, personal and professional, so we’ve taken stock of what we’re hearing and put together this list of our recommendations for resolutions your company should consider to optimize your BI in 2012. Are we right? What others are on your schedule for next year?

Resolution 1: Information Access for Everyone
BI for the masses – it’s a thought some think is far off in the distance, but actually, many of our customers are making the move in 2012. Since decisions are being made by everyone from CEOs to line-level employees, companies need to consider opening information access up beyond a small group of power-users. Employees who can’t write reports can still analyze them and make use of the data to make better decisions. Take stock of your existing BI systems in 2012 and determine if removing restrictions would benefit your company’s performance.

Resolution 2: Collaboration Tools – the Key to Success
How do employees determine what BI reports are useful and what reports are garbage? How do they make enhancement requests for reports and dashboards, provide feedback to report authors, or share & annotate reports? Collaborative BI solutions not only offer an easy entry-point into BI for the casual user/knowledge worker (since they make it easy for users to search for relevant information), but they also keep statistics about the most- and least-used reports. Solutions like our own arcplan Engage allow users to rate and comment on reports, so their feedback becomes an essential part of the BI process. Collaboration, when it comes to BI, is about adding value to existing information and using it to your company’s advantage.

Resolution 3: Form Follows Function

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