Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Advice for Better BI Reporting – Part II


In our previous article on the topic of how to make your BI reports better in 2012, we presented 5 ways to take your reporting to the next level by making design a priority, enhancing system performance with in-memory capabilities, delivering reports directly to users, capturing comments that provide context, and using cloud data to provide users with new insights. There are about a million practical pieces of advice to improve BI reporting, but I’ve polled the experts at arcplan who have been designing and implementing reports for companies all over the world for nearly 20 years, and this is our top 10 list. Let’s get into items 6 through 10:

6) Include unstructured data. Uncovering unexpected insights is the crown jewel of data analysis, and many companies are not tapping into the data sources that can provide them with this opportunity. By collecting and analyzing social media data, for example, alongside the rest of your corporate data, you get an enhanced view of the people who purchase (or don’t purchase) your products and services. Social data can help you spot early trends that can drive product development, product delivery, and marketing messaging.

7) Go mobile. Gartner predicts that by 2013, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices. Executives and road warriors are becoming increasingly comfortable with receiving reports on their smartphones and tablet PCs and are pushing for data access when they need it, wherever they need it. The easiest to push to mobile first are your existing reports, slightly redesigned to incorporate large fonts and easy finger navigation to facilitate drill-down. Mobile reports are not just about viewing data – interaction needs to be taken into account.

8) Empower users through self-service.

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What To Do With Your Social Media Data


We’re all seeing that social media needs to be part of our business strategy. We interact with clients on customer portals, respond to complaints on Twitter, network with partners on LinkedIn, and read the web chatter to assess the general sentiment about our business.

The media cranks out new statistics weekly – your number of Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections, blog subscribers – but how do they really help us? Is social media a distraction or an attraction? Is there anything valuable in the seemingly endless amount of unstructured information that can help us make better business decisions that affect our bottom line? Yes, indeed there is. Successful organizations are collecting, analyzing, and presenting this data to the C-suite to get an enhanced view of their brand, their customers, and their prospects.

Many businesses simply don’t know where to start when it comes to aggregating the unstructured data from social media sources, let alone how to use that data to influence decision-making and drive performance. Social media data can be used not only to measure how the market perceives you and your competitors, but also to pick up early trends that can drive product development, product delivery, marketing messaging, etc. A visual representation of customer sentiment and conversation topics, for example, is necessary to really understand what’s happening on the web.

So what should you show on your newly-devised social dashboard? This depends on the goals you’re trying to meet with your social media efforts.

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