Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 3


Data Management_arcplanData Management & the Continued Use of Excel

Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t able to afford business intelligence software platforms that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, that’s no longer an obstacle with the rise of affordable, easy to use BI tools like arcplan. Once you’ve decided that you need better, faster answers to your business questions, you start to get into the nitty gritty details of what a BI deployment means and how you need to prepare your data. Let’s continue with our series on the most frequently asked questions SMBs have when it comes to BI. This time I’ll address questions about data management and spreadsheets.

5) How much data do we need?

The #1 technology challenge for SMBs is getting insight from the data they already have. The average SMB has over 27 unique data sources according to research conducted by The Aberdeen Group – from ERP systems and General Ledgers to CRM tools, social media and more. Your company should carefully consider the amount, type, and “freshness” of data that your organization requires for its reporting.

Ask yourself:

  • How many data sources are really critical to our decision-making?
  • Do we need real-time data access or will daily or weekly updates do the job?
  • How far back do we need to go? Do we need 5-year-old data or is only recent data important?

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BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 2


FAQ_cloudCloud BI vs. SaaS

Continuing with our series on frequently asked questions by small and medium-sized businesses about business intelligence, today I’ll address cloud BI and SaaS BI. They’re not actually the same thing, though some of their characteristics overlap.

3) Should we choose an on-premise BI solution or one hosted in the cloud?

This can be an important distinction when choosing your shortlist of vendors; however more and more are offering both on-premise and cloud deployment models, including arcplan. If you’re unsure, shortlisting vendors that offer both is a good plan. That way, you can choose the deployment model after deciding that the product’s features match your needs.

Choosing whether or not to deploy BI in the cloud brings up some special considerations – how concerned about data security you are, where your data will be stored, and whether you have the resources in-house to manage the hardware necessary for your BI deployment.

If data security is a major concern, there are ways to store your corporate data securely behind a firewall and broadcast queries to your cloud BI system. As we often say at arcplan, you don’t necessarily have to move your data to the cloud in order for your BI to be there. That may seem confusing, so let me clarify…

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BI for SMBs: Answers to Your FAQs – Part 1


FAQsBuying Criteria & Vendor Shortlists

Business intelligence isn’t just for large enterprises anymore. Aberdeen’s SMB research reveals that the top pressure driving small businesses to implement BI is the need to move away from “gut feel” and more toward fact-based decisions. And so small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees are adopting technologies we traditionally think of as “enterprise level,” from ERP and CRM to BI and analytics.

SMBs are facing the challenges all businesses face – rapidly growing and faster data volumes, decision-makers clamoring for self-service capabilities, and scarce budgets, resources and in-house expertise to devote to analytic projects. These challenges are informing the way SMBs are buying BI software. As a BI vendor that caters to SMBs as much as large enterprises, arcplan decided to compile answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear from small and medium-sized businesses.

1) How do we create a good list of buying criteria?

The first step to implementing a BI solution is to develop a list of good buying criteria. While each company has its own set of priorities, most SMBs must adopt solutions that:

  • Are easy to install, configure and manage
  • Are user friendly and intuitive for end users and developers
  • Don’t increase demand on already limited IT resources
  • Easily integrate with existing systems/data sources
  • Have straightforward and simple pricing
  • Are relevant and proven in same-size and same-industry companies

Some companies may be primarily concerned with visual appeal, specific features like drill-down, integration with a particular data source, or amount of customization required, but this list is a good starting point.

2) Should we choose a name-brand BI vendor or a boutique vendor?

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