Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

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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Business Intelligence Trends 2012: Mobile BI, Collaborative BI and Cloud BI


Last week, our CEO posted an article about his own predictions for BI in 2012. After reading it, I thought about surveying arcplan employees about the trends they see coming to the forefront over the next 12 months. They suggested that the hype around mobile, collaborative, and cloud BI that we saw this year will come to fruition in 2012. We published a press release today that highlights these trends and what we can expect to see next year:

BI Trends 2012 – From Hype to Breakthrough

The market for Business Intelligence (BI) in 2011 was shaped by three much-hyped themes: mobile BI, collaborative BI and cloud BI. While vendors and analysts are driving the buzz around these new technologies, users have thus far hesitated to fully embrace them as they explore what their business benefits might be. Will 2012 be the year that mobile, collaborative and cloud BI go mainstream? Global BI innovator arcplan dares to look into its crystal ball to see what technologies will break through in the coming year.

Mobile BI – Simplified Entry
The hype around mobile BI was clear this year, but did the talk result in concrete implementations? According to The BI Survey 10 from analysts BARC, only 8% of companies using BI software access their reports in mobile form – an astonishingly low number if you consider that mobile BI is being lauded by analysts and the media as the next big thing, and users are clamoring for mobile solutions.

So why hasn’t this hype translated to action yet? So far, Apple has dominated the market for mobile devices with the iPhone and iPad, which are only conditionally compatible with business applications. This will change in 2012 when Microsoft and Phone 7 return to the market with a focus on both the business sector and the consumer market, which will set it apart from Apple. Companies are looking beyond the Apple platform for cost-effective mobile BI solutions, and in 2012, they will encounter Microsoft’s new Metro Design, which will simplify entry into mobile BI tremendously. This concept, fueled by clean typeface and balanced design, can be used on Phone 7 as well as any other mobile device and is well suited for business applications. Furthermore, Web apps – in contrast to native apps – will meet the demand for an efficient entry into the world of mobile business applications. Due to their develop once/deploy anywhere nature, they offer businesses the chance to productively use mobile BI apps on any platform (Apple, Microsoft, Android, etc.) and independent of cumbersome approval processes or other restrictions in manufacturer-controlled app stores.

Collaborative BI – The Democratization of Knowledge
2012 will be the year in which companies realize the promise of collaborative BI when information becomes democratized…

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BI Predictions for 2012 – Self-Service, Mobile, Collaborative


arcplan CEO, Roland HoelscherWe’re coming up on the end of the year – a time when we hopefully have a few moments during the busy holiday rush to think about what next year will bring. For us in the BI world, that means trying to stay ahead of trends so we can continue to bring you the world-class solutions you need to get insight from your data.

I believe that 2012 will be all about bringing business intelligence to users wherever they are. That means self-service, mobile BI, and collaboration will be on everyone’s minds.

The idea of self-service BI is taking root in organizations large and small. Business users want to easily access and analyze data without having to use complex tools or rely on IT. Solution providers like arcplan are trying to reach the non-power-users who need insight into corporate data as much as anyone.

Mobile BI and collaborative BI have been named trends before, but in 2012, they are poised to take off. A quarter of organizations surveyed in the BI Survey 10 plan to implement mobile BI in the next 12 months. Businesses are moving from planning to actual deployment as executives and road warriors become increasingly more comfortable with smartphones and tablets, and IT finds ways to ensure data security.

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What HTML5 Means for Mobile BI


What changes you as a customer can anticipate over the next 12 months

You may have heard of HTML5 by now, the fifth version of the language used to present content on the web. But what’s the big deal? Let’s take a look at how HTML5 is changing the mobile BI landscape and what benefits you’re going to reap if you’re part of the 22% of organizations that are planning to deploy mobile BI in the near future.

HTML5 is a big push forward from our current version, especially with regard to how it handles media (audio, video) as well as cross-device portability. Both are key areas pertinent to BI software providers who are working in the mobile space – especially those like arcplan that are delivering “web apps” to customers – applications that run through mobile browsers on smartphones and tablet PCs, eliminating the need to create separate apps for different devices. The debate about web apps vs. native apps has been raging over the past year. Here’s my take.

Today native apps or even HTML4-based web apps require application or infrastructure customizations for every different device type or technology, which makes them cumbersome to maintain over time – cumbersome for the vendors of such software solutions, but even more so for the customers deploying applications to their field staff. Not every organization can standardize on one device, so maintenance costs for mobile BI can be high – or at least higher than expected.

But this will change with HTML5. As it matures, the authors plan to allow future HTML5 browsers to (securely) access sensor and touch information, simply eradicating most of the arguments in favor of native app development. The new functions of HTML5 will help BI vendors provide cost-efficient mobile BI options to customers so they can reuse existing desktop applications on mobile devices.

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Mobile BI’s Hype vs. True Adoption Rates


Is mobile BI more than just hype? We think so.There’s no denying the hype around mobile BI. But how much of this talk is actually put into action? According to The BI Survey 10, the world’s largest independent survey of BI users published this week by the Business Application Research Center (BARC), only 8% of companies using BI software access reports on mobile devices! That’s a surprisingly low number considering how much BI vendors (including arcplan) have been promoting it as the next big thing, how many analyst reports and surveys have been devoted to it, and, of course, how many companies seem to be clamoring for it. Let’s consider the factors that contribute to this low adoption rate and evaluate whether there’s any redemption for mobile BI adoption in the future.

It should come as no surprise that the heaviest consumers of BI are the folks behind the desk. In a recent post on mobile BI, we called out these users specifically to include account managers, research analysts and finance managers – the “first to arrive and last to leave” crowd. Because their work is best accomplished behind a desk, there’s less likelihood that they’ll need to rely on a smartphone or tablet PC for reporting or analysis. So this huge subset of BI users can’t be relied upon to be the first adopters.

Who else isn’t adopting mobile BI right now? Apparently the executive set. A major reason for low adoption rates, according to BARC, is that the prime candidates for mobile BI usage – namely executives and high-level managers – are too busy to even run reports and would actually prefer to be fed information by someone else. In other words, they’d rather trust someone else to quickly tell them what they need to know.

Even with these two major factors, 8% still seems like quite a low adoption rate, so what else could be going on here?

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