Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
3Jul/130

Design Adjustments for Mobile Dashboards

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With half of the world’s businesses expected to embrace the bring-your-own device (BYOD) trend by 2017 and more than 80% of employees already using personal devices in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to make your business intelligence mobile-enabled. In surveying our customers, arcplan has found that those deploying mobile BI cite the need to deploy apps to many devices while maintaining a consistent design and low maintenance effort. So our next platform release this Fall is built on the concept of DORA – Design Once, Run Anywhere – the ability to create BI apps one time and have them automatically adapt their layouts to appear optimized on the end user’s device. And in today’s world, that can be a huge range of devices:
range of device sizes_arcplan_dashboardsBut even with DORA, dashboard designers need to do some work. The process involves laying out the dashboard elements for each screen size up front so the application can call up the optimized format. So let’s review a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you design your company’s mobile dashboards.

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21Jun/130

Finding the Right Analytics Engine For Your Business

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luxurycar_BIAs we usher in the warm summer months, I can’t help but notice people taking their high performance convertibles out of the garage for a spin. Upon leaving the infamous King of Prussia mall last weekend, I saw a Mercedes SL550 Roadster and an Audi R8 in the parking lot. That’s when I learned an important lesson: people actually drive cars that are over $100k. No but seriously, while these sports cars are great for feeding your occasional need for speed or making a bold statement about personal taste, they are not meant for everyday use. For most of us, a comfortable, mid-range vehicle that won’t empty your bank account works just fine. The same is true when selecting an analytic tool for your businesses. Business analytics solutions are set to reach 50% of potential users by 2014 according to Gartner, but maybe your organization is a bit behind. Choosing an analytic tool can be a bumpy road, so let’s discuss some things you should think about when choosing the right solution for your company’s needs:

Balanced and smooth
When purchasing a vehicle, most buyers will select one that’s reliable, safe, and will hold its value over time. When purchasing a business intelligence solution to meet everyday analytic needs, you should think about similar qualities: you want a BI tool that reliably helps you address specific business problems, is user-friendly for users of all skill levels (especially if you’re shooting for that 50% adoption rate), and holds its value over time – also known as a return on investment.  “Balanced and smooth” BI solutions – those that offer a good deal of options but are easy to install and work with – are great for organizations just getting their feet wet with BI technology…

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4Jun/130

Future-Proofing Your BI Dashboards: Article Featured on TDWI

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tdwi_logoarcplan’s Senior Vice President (and frequent author on this blog) Dwight deVera is featured on TDWI.org for his article, How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards. He covers how Responsive Design, HTML5, Self-Service and Collaboration are already beginning to influence BI dashboard design and why you need to get on board with these trends. Check out the article and let us know what you think!

How to Future-Proof Your Dashboards

Dashboards equal business intelligence (BI) to many people. They have been around for decades without substantial changes. Over time, we have refined the rules of dashboard design, deciding what makes dashboards most functional and efficient. Times are changing and dashboards must adapt to shifting user requirements. Mobility is encroaching on traditional dashboard usage and users are demanding self-service capabilities, less IT interference, and a greater say in what corporate data is useful and relevant. Future-proofing your dashboards is imperative if they are to continue delivering value.

Responsive Design + HTML5 = BI Anywhere
According to TechRepublic’s BYOD Business Strategy Survey, 62 percent of companies either already have Bring Your Own Device allowances in place or plan to by the end of 2013. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand — smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for Web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. However, switching devices and accessing BI apps is not always so effortless.

A new design concept is making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development…

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6May/130

4 Ways to Future-Proof Your Dashboards

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In my last post, I ruminated on the problems that plague business intelligence dashboards. Traditional dashboards simply haven’t evolved as quickly as modern businesses, where decisions are made by many levels of management and need to be informed by various areas of the business – finance, marketing, sales, operations and more. If your dashboard is confined to your department’s metrics alone, it’s doing you a disservice. Dashboards of the future will require cross-functional views of KPIs to really be effective. And they’ll embed more self-service options than ever. The good news is that future-proofing your dashboards is possible. Here’s how:

1) Make your dashboards searchable.
arcplan_dashboard_search_sm
Key performance indicators are essential for monitoring business performance. Last time, I talked about how “KPI overload” – common in so many businesses I’ve worked with – can cloud business insight. However in some cases, having hundreds of KPIs may actually be necessary for understanding and managing your performance. If you need KPIs from many parts of the business in order to make good decisions, it can become a complex task to find the information you need. So consider making your dashboards search-enabled so that users can easily find the metrics they’re looking for. Searching is how users find information; “Google” is a verb for a reason. So why should your BI system be any different?

2) Make your dashboards personalized. 
Dashboards serve as a point of reference for business leaders, many times per day or at least a few times per week. Either way, your dashboard should be one of the things you look at the most in a given week (besides your husband, wife, or kids of course). From a personalization perspective, there’s something we can learn from a social medial platform like Pinterest…

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1May/130

What’s Wrong with Today’s BI Dashboards

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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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