Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Business Intelligence Trends 2013: The Breakthrough of Do It Yourself BI and the Breakup of Big Data


arcplan recently examined the trends that will shape the BI landscape in 2013 – self-service BI, collaboration, and mobile BI. Under the umbrella of Do It Yourself BI (DIY BI), these trends will come to the forefront and big data will lose steam. It might be controversial to say, but we have our reasons.

Enterprises are demanding an increased focus on cost reductions and customer profitability – typically under business users’ purview – which constantly impacts the development of BI as business users are driving future trends. In 2013, business users will demand easier ways to access and analyze data, pushing their employers to purchase the self-service tools that BI vendors have been developing over the past few years and leading to a true breakthrough of DIY BI. Beyond that, the big data challenge has not yet been solved with an easy-to-digest solution, causing a lot of the hype to die down next year (for good reason). Let’s examine these trends further:

DIY BI Part I: Self-Service BI
In the past, BI was limited to a few expert analysts and users in the IT department. No doubt it has come a long way since. More and more BI users are taking over tasks traditionally dominated by IT developers, such as report development, dashboard creation, and ad-hoc reporting. In fact, Forrester Research advocates that 80% of BI tasks should be in the hands of business users themselves – and these business users need easy-to-use interfaces, programming-free BI app creation, the ability to search, write-back and drill-down, and data exploration capabilities.

In 2013, the delays associated with IT will be brushed aside in favor of the speed, control, and rapid access that comes along with self-service BI. The demand will increase for modern ad-hoc tools that allow users to directly tap the corporate data warehouse and provide a high degree of flexibility to slice-and-dice the data for insight on the fly. In-memory technology, advanced visualizations, and the broader emergence of HTML5 will support developers in creating multifaceted web-based apps that run on any device via a standard web browser and offer simple, intuitive self-service features every type of user can enjoy. Users will become more self-sufficient in 2013, able to get the information they need in order to optimize and accelerate their decision making processes.

DIY BI Part II: Collaboration

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Teradata PARTNERS User Group Conference 2012 – A Vendor’s Perspective


This year’s Teradata PARTNERS Conference in Washington D.C. was my second in a row. The theme, Decision Possible, was perfect as the focus of the sessions was not just on the business of collecting data, but more on using data to make better decisions. At our booth, we met hundreds of DBAs, Solutions Architects, BI Directors, and consultants, some of whom knew arcplan already and some whom had never encountered us before. But by the end of the show, we had gotten to the heart of the challenges they face when it comes to BI.

The attendees we met seemed to be most interested in what arcplan offers that other vendors do not. We’re one of the only partners to support Teradata’s OLAP Connector (and relational interface as well) and with so many customers purchasing it to enable easy access to Teradata content for the business community, we have a great starting point with those organizations. We were part of a special Teradata OLAP Connector Reception on Tuesday, October 23rd along with Tableau, where we raffled off an iPad and a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Why these 2 devices? That leads to one of the most frequent discussions we had with attendees at the conference…

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How Metro/Windows 8 Design is Transforming Mobile BI Apps: Part I


Last year on this blog, our SVP of Global Marketing Tiemo Winterkamp said that 2012 would be the year that mobile design standards emerge. In the same article, he predicted that Microsoft would be back in a big way with a new design language called Metro that would make mobile apps friendlier than ever. He was right on both counts, except that now Metro is called “Windows 8 design” or “Modern UI Design,” rumored to be because of possible infringement on the name of a company called Metro AG. Either way, Windows 8 is influencing mobile interface design well beyond Microsoft products. In fact, it’s transforming the way we design mobile BI apps − for the better.

Why do mobile apps need special design rules? A parallel is how nearly every company has a mobile version of their website. It’s the same content but it adapts to the user’s device, incorporating larger buttons, bigger fonts, etc. This idea is known as Responsive Design (depending on the target device, a completely adapted layout will be launched). Mobile traffic is currently only 10% of all global web traffic, yet we’ve created a set of design standards for experiencing websites on mobile devices. In the same way, mobile BI use is a small percentage of overall business intelligence usage, but it’s growing and it demands to be accommodated.

So why does arcplan advocate the Windows 8 design style for mobile apps?

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Mobile BI Strategy Checklist: Part III


Over the last week, I’ve been discussing the items you should consider before jumping head-first into mobile business intelligence. You can find Part I here and Part II here. Today I’ll evaluate the final 2 items that might be the most important yet – architecture and security.

7. Mobile architecture plan
This discussion is a bit technical, but it’s important to understand the basics. If you’re approaching mobile BI from the business side, you’ll be able to intelligently discuss this topic with IT. I recommend a VPN (virtual private network) architecture to our mobile BI customers. It’s the easiest to set up and it supports the growing BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Most devices already include VPN capability without the need to install software to make it work. VPN solutions involve sanctioned and managed connections to the corporate network. All traffic over the VPN is encrypted, so even if your users are on a notoriously insecure network like airport wifi, the corporate data they’re looking at on their mobile devices is secure.

Here is a typical mobile BI VPN client configuration:
mobile BI VPN architecture
From a reliability and performance perspective, these deployments are identical to traditional desktop/laptop clients connecting to the company network. They would require users to login to the VPN, but that extra step is worth it to protect access to corporate data.

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Mobile BI Strategy Checklist: Part II


In my previous post on this topic, I evaluated some of the necessary components for a successful mobile BI deployment. As with any project, planning is the most important step, so let’s continue today with 3 more items to add to your mobile BI strategy checklist.

4. Platform strategy
When working out your platform strategy, you need to consider the kinds of devices you’ll deploy your mobile business intelligence on and then what decisions will be affected by those devices. Ideally, your organization would have a standard mobile device rolled out to users, enabling centralized hardware, software, and data security. But this is the real world and that train has left the station. “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is a trend for a reason. Before the term was coined, business users were using their own mobile devices to keep in touch with work while away from their desks, and they don’t want to carry separate work and personal mobile devices. CIOs and CSOs (corporate security officers) are beginning to tentatively accept employees using their personal devices, if only for the cost savings to the organization (going back to the ROI discussion from Part I of this article). One of the implications of this platform strategy is, of course, security concerns, which I’ll address in my next article.

5. Software strategy
This is an area that will be affected by your choice of mobile platforms. If you’re lucky enough to have a standard mobile platform at your company, then native mobile BI apps will be an option for you. These are applications specifically designed to operate on a particular device, like an iPhone or iPad. They take advantage of the native gestures of the device, like pinching and zooming. However, if you might possibly switch device standards or have one set of mobile BI users on iPhones and another on iPads, consider Web apps, which are device-independent applications that can be rolled out on another platform in the future with little effort. They run through Web browsers on smartphones and tablets, eliminating the need to create separate apps for different devices.

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