Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan
10Jul/142

Top 5 Criteria for Evaluating Business Intelligence Reporting and Analytics Software

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One of the most challenging tasks when planning a new business intelligence project is the selection of the right tools to achieve the best possible return on investment. You will have many decisions to make depending on your company’s needs. This poses many questions such as: Will you need new servers? Will you need to host it in the cloud? Will ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) tools be needed to manipulate data or to combine multiple data sources? Will you need cube technology (usually dubbed OLAP)? What type of reporting tool will you need? All of these questions need to be answered carefully as they affect each other on your way forward.

A criteria-based approach should be used in selecting each software. This approach in evaluating software provides you with a quantitative measurement of quality before you commit to a specific tool. When evaluating business intelligence reporting and analytics software, the following 5 criteria are your top priority, but should not be the only criteria used: flexibility, security, learnability, mobility, and evolveability. Let’s take a deeper look into each of these areas.

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15Apr/140

Analytics As A Catalyst For Positive Inflection

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Year after year the hype surrounding data analytics becomes louder. Thought leaders and research organizations have sung the praises of analytics as a means for generating much-needed insight into business operations, and companies that have embraced analytics have been able to translate insight to better operational productivity and faster, more accurate decision-making. In a competitive business environment where your competition is just as hungry as you are to reach and secure new customers and where business leaders need to make accurate, fact-based decisions about the company’s future, analytics can be the game-changer that makes the difference between success and failure. Here’s how:

The beauty of analytics is that it can serve as a guideline for transforming sub-par business performance to one that is efficient and profitable. Whereas reports provide a historical view of what transpired, analytic output is forward-looking, and plays an integral role in helping executives plan for the future.
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30Nov/120

Making Chaos Comprehensible with BI

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One of our blog authors, Dwight deVera – arcplan’s Senior VP of Solutions Delivery – was interviewed recently by Forbes. This week, the feature piece was published and I thought I’d share it with our readers.

 arcplan Makes Chaos Comprehensible
With its promise to deliver order – or at least orderly reports – from the chaos of heterogeneous systems, and provide results including live data updates to mobile devices, arcplan has opportunity for continued growth. 

The article highlights arcplan’s flexibility and independence, which allow us to consolidate Excel spreadsheets and dispersed data into reports, scorecards, and dashboards that simply work on any device. It also comments on some of the new features in arcplan 7.5, like drag-and-drop from arcplan to Excel, Live Screenshot widgets, and more.

Dwight also shares his opinions on the popularity of Excel, the iPad as an executive tool, and how he expects Microsoft’s Surface tablet to perform.

Enjoy!

23Feb/120

Ad-Hoc Reporting Isn’t for Everyone

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Consider your users before thinking ad-hoc will be your silver bullet.

Ad-hoc reports allow users to manipulate and explore their data and build reports on the fly to answer business questions. If dashboards and static reports answer the question “What is happening at my business?” then ad-hoc answers the question “Why is it happening?” However, ad-hoc is not for everyone. There is a common misconception, often propagated by BI vendors like us, that once users have access to their data, they’ll be able to self-serve and IT will be relieved of the “go fetch” requests for reports. Let’s debunk that myth.

The spectrum of workers in your organization includes people with various responsibilities and skill sets who are equipped with tools specific to their job function in order to get work done. In her 2011 report on Self-Service BI, analyst Cindi Howson illustrates the different segments of BI users and their relation to business query tools.

As you can see, ad-hoc or business query tools only serve a small subset of users: IT developers, analysts & information workers (power users), and some executives & managers. IT developers are building ad-hoc reports for the frequent requests of other user groups. Data analysis experts/power users use ad-hoc query tools most often to support decision-makers who make operational, strategic or tactical decisions. Then you have executives and managers who ideally want interactive dashboards with an ad-hoc component so they can quickly answer questions without needing complex BI tools.

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21Feb/122

arcplan Spotlight: Ad-Hoc Reporting in Your Browser

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We just created a quick video on arcplan Spotlight, our newest solution for ad-hoc reporting, which I want to share with our readers. Our customers are a mix between those who access static reports and dashboards every day and those who are ad-hoc driven. For the latter, we developed arcplan Spotlight, which enables powerful on-the-fly analysis in any web browser. For the former, arcplan Spotlight is an appropriate next step as user needs evolve since it’s simple enough for non-power-users who want to explore their data without complex BI tools.

arcplan Spotlight goes beyond what most other BI platforms offer, which is simple export to Excel, where the user has to wait for data, write formulas, and then do it all again next week when encountering the same question. arcplan Spotlight allows users to save queries (privately or publicly), export to Excel with a live connection to the data source, export to PDF for sharing query results, customize the look of your query, and undo/redo your last action.

Best of all, it’s free with installations of arcplan Enterprise 7.1, arcplan Edge 2.7.1, and arcplan Engage 1.1 and above.

Have questions? Leave us a comment!