Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Global Dashboard Design Trends for 2014


For a lot of people, business intelligence = dashboards. Since they’re so relied upon to present at-a-glance views of KPIs and to guide decision-making for business leaders, it’s critical that dashboards are well-formatted, easy to read and simple to navigate. Let’s explore the dashboard design trends that resonate with today’s executives.

1) Flat UI will continue to grow
In 2014 clean beats clutter. Users are drawn to crisp, clean interfaces, often with tile-based layouts. Windows 8 was influential in creating this flat design and Apple followed suit with iOS 7. Business leaders can quickly access and interpret data when information is presented in an uncluttered interface.

2) Mobile First

Continue reading this post>>


5 Business Trends for Dashboards in 2014


dashboard trendsDashboards are the most tangible deliverable from business intelligence providers. Not everyone can fathom what “guided analytics” are, or how collaboration capabilities can help their business, but dashboards make sense to people. They’re still a hot trend, even in 2014, and getting hotter as mobile BI – which usually takes the form of mobile dashboards – becomes more prevalent. Companies of every size want dashboards and decision makers at every level need them to stay on top of their key metrics. But what are the business trends that will influence dashboard purchases in 2014? Let’s look at the top 5:

1) Business users will drive dashboard deployments
Line of business users will play a more dominant role in evaluating and selecting dashboard software while IT departments will play a diminishing role in 2014. Traditionally, IT-chosen platforms are highly governed and provide trickles of information that seldom keep up with the demands of the business. By contrast, business-led dashboard projects have different requirements including self-service capabilities, direct access to data and short implementation timelines.

2) Full-service self-service…

Continue reading this post>>


Signs That Your BI Dashboard Needs a Comeback


dashboard-comebackEveryone loves a good comeback. Stories about celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Britney Spears climbing back to the top after falling so far capture our collective imagination. Movies like Rocky and Cinderella Man – about underdogs making a comeback – inspire us to think we ourselves can rebound from any setback.

Is your business intelligence dashboard the underdog at your organization? Dashboards have been around for decades, with some companies not putting the time and effort into updating them regularly to keep pace with the innovations in BI and the growing expectations of users.

Done correctly, BI dashboards are indispensable resources for decision makers, capable of bringing the most pertinent information to the forefront so leaders can take action. Conversely, BI dashboards that fall short of meeting the needs of business leaders will take a back seat in the BI toolbox or be forgotten about entirely. In order to keep decision makers coming back for more, BI dashboards must serve up relevant information, keep pace with new trends in technology, and at the same time maintain visual appeal. Read on for the 3 reasons why your BI dashboard may need a comeback.

Your KPIs aren’t KPIs…

Continue reading this post >>


Customer Analytics: See the Truth with Data Visualization – Part III


I’m wrapping up my series on customer analytics and their associated visualizations with a discussion of 3 more metrics you should track on your customer dashboards – customer lifetime value, accounts receivable, and bookings & backlog – and why these simple visualizations are effective because they extend the reach of data to more people in the organization.

Track Customer Lifetime Value with a Stacked Bar Chart

One of the most underutilized metrics is customer lifetime value (CLTV), which sits at the intersection of sales, marketing and finance. CLTV calculates the historic value of a customer over time and helps establish how much customer relationships are worth – and therefore how much money can be spent to acquire them.

It’s conventional wisdom that it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to maintain existing business. For many companies, customers become more profitable over time. It costs less to pick up the phone and sell additional licenses to an existing software customer than it does to fly a sales person to meet with a prospect for the first time. It costs less to run loyalty programs to keep customers happy than it does to sponsor a trade show to meet new prospects. But the costs of these programs, all of which are necessary for running a business, have to be taken into account when using the CLTV metric. Customer lifetime value shouldn’t be something that only finance teams look at. Sales and marketing professionals must use it to ensure that their acquisition program costs are in line with CLTV.

There are many ways to calculate customer lifetime value, but the simplest is…

Continue reading this post >>


Dynamic Data Visualizations


There’s a lot of discussion happening in the BI world right now over data visualization. On the one hand, you have analysts pushing the idea that data visualization = visual data discovery = self-service BI = advanced BI. I’ve seen Gartner and Aberdeen both touting the idea that data visualization and data discovery are the same and that they’re the key to unlocking analytics for more users in your enterprise.

On the other hand, you have organizations who think data visualization = dashboards. They want to present their data graphically, have some interactive capabilities like drill-down and drill across, and use advanced features like animated graphs and motion charts.

At arcplan, we offer our customers all types of data visualization, from sophisticated desktop and mobile dashboards to visual ad-hoc reporting. Today let’s examine some of the dynamic, interactive visualizations you can employ in your BI dashboards to enhance data visibility and tell stories that are more expressive than static charts.

MotionCharts_220Motion Charts for Trend Analysis
A motion chart is a dynamic chart that shows the flow of data across a dimension – for example, time. It’s a great way to look at large amounts of data at once to discover patterns.

For example, a sales manager may want to conduct a trend analysis for the company’s product line over the course of a year to analyze profits and losses for a set of product categories. A motion chart provides a more dynamic option than a table of numbers. By simply sliding the time bar along the x-axis, the sales manager obtains a visual of the fluctuations in the product categories over time. It’s the difference between reading a book and watching a movie on the same topic: though the information is the same, a visual aid allows some users to better absorb it.

Zoom Line Chart for Dynamic Drill-Down
Don’t be fooled by this ordinary looking line chart…

Continue reading this post >>